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Meet Ma Joye

Stop Hidden Hunger

Portrait of Ma Joye

Nonhlanhla Joye, also known as Ma Joye, has a name that speaks volumes about her journey. It translates to “fortunate one” and embodies her resilience and success despite significant challenges.

In 2014, when she was diagnosed with cancer and weakened by the illness, Ma Joye could no longer work as a psychologist.

However, as the sole provider for her family, she turned to agriculture. Drawing on the knowledge passed down by her farming parents, she began growing onions, carrots, cabbage, and spinach on a small plot of land in a Durban township. Unfortunately, her first harvest was devoured by the neighbors’ chickens.

Ma Joye developed a low-tech growing system

Undeterred, Ma Joye developed a farming system using plastic bags and a few wooden planks. Not only did this system protect her crops from animals, but it was also so effective that she could sell a significant portion of her produce. A true low-tech innovation!

Ma Joye's low-tech system

Inspired by her success, after recovering from her illness, Ma Joye founded Umgibe and started spreading the system, particularly in schools, to contribute to food security.

But she didn’t stop there. She purchased a piece of land and established a training academy for aspiring farmers, encompassing the entire value chain, including food processing. Simultaneously, she created a marketing system to cater to larger local buyers. She has now built 160 agricultural organic cooperatives, providing income for nearly 3,000 small-scale farmers and their families. In doing so, she actively contributes to stopping rural-urban migration and breaking the cycle of poverty.

Seedpreneur Program

Her current project is the Seedpreneur Program. In this program, she and her community champions teach children and youth in schools how to grow their own vegetables and even earn money from it.


The children receive seeds, soil, and seed trays and nurture the seeds into seedlings at home. With the first 20% of the seeds, the children can establish their own vegetable gardens. They sell the remaining seedlings to the agricultural cooperatives. This way, children as young as four years old learn how to feed themselves and become economically independent.

Besides training children in agriculture and entrepreneurship, another positive side effect is that surrounding communities and small-scale farmers can access affordable seedlings, which are usually scarce. Such, Ma Joye is essentially creating a mobile, living greenhouse. By now, Ma Joye operates her Seedpreur program in over 100 schools.

We at dooiy believe that Ma Joye’s unique Seedpreneur Program could make a significant contribution to eradicating hunger in many communities and restoring dignity to people.

Become a change-maker yourself

If you want to be part of this journey, please get in touch with Ma Joye and replicate her program in your community.

Or - if you are able to contribute financially, please support Ma Joye in making a lasting impact on even more youth. With a contribution of €1,000 (~R20,000), Ma Joye can provide planting materials and training for 100 children at a school for an entire year. Following this initial support, the program becomes self-sustaining, empowering children to generate income and cultivate their own nutritious vegetables.

To contact Ma Joye, visit her dooiy partner profile.

Ma Joye's low-tech system

Nonhlanhla Joye is a multi-award winning farmer, a social entrepreneur, public speaker, skills development facilitator, food security activist and CEO of Umgibe Farming Organics. She lives in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

All images provided by Umgibe.

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On dooiy you find fun and easy hacks that make life easier. Just follow our simple step-by-step guides and create something for your home or community with little materials and tools. Want to start a business? dooiy might be the perfect starting point for you.

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