In 2007 South African-born entrepreneur Richard Bowsher decided to start farming Rooibos tea.
Richard acquired tracts of farmland which had been previously farmed, but at negligible intensity, and with absolutely no buildings, homes or infrastructure at all. The only things standing on the farmland when Richard got going was an old bus, a ram-shackled camp site, and a few Rooibos tea bushes here and there. Nobody lived on the farm, there was no running water, and there was no power supplied to the farm.
The opportunity presented was amazing …. And that was to build a modern and progressive organic Rooibos farm from scratch, to then leverage the farms unique provenance to supply premium brands with top quality Rooibos, and thus build a sustainable farming business which provides meaningful and sustainable jobs in the South African economy.
Richard spent the first few years researching how to optimally farm Rooibos … to achieve both consistently excellent quality tea and high yielding healthy fields simultaneously.
Many of the leading farmers in the industry were generous with their time and knowledge, and Richard appreciatively assembled their ideas into what has become Klipopmekaar’s progressive farming and processing recipe.
Thereafter Richard invested heavily to build the farm stores, processing facilities, workshops, staff homes, offices, infrastructure, custom equipment and implements needed for the journey. A fleet of tractors, trucks and vehicles was also acquired. And most importantly, excellent management and passionate staff were freshly employed to build and run the farm together. In 2009 Paul Schlechter joined Klipopemkaar as Farm Manager and has been the farms energetic and knowledgeable on-the-ground leader ever since. The long journey of manifesting Klipopmekaar was finally underway.
New proud South African rooibos brand
In addition to supplying premium tea brands direct, Richard also wanted to create a new proudly South African Rooibos brand. In 2009, Richard Co-founded BOS Ice Tea. With the assistance of excellent management and visionary investors, the exciting new Rooibos ice tea beverage company grew rapidly. Richard initially worked with fellow Co-founder Grant Rushmere to launch the fledgling business, and thereafter served as Chairman of the Board until 2016. Eleven years on in 2019, BOS still sources all of its Rooibos from Klipopmekaar; and is the world’s leading Rooibos ice tea brand with regional head offices in Cape Town, Amsterdam, Paris and San Diego USA.
One of Richard’s proudest BOS-related achievements is his establishment of BOS’s tree planting program. When BOS launched, Richard committed the company to planting and maintaining one indigenous tree per every 2000 units of BOS ice tea sold. By 2018 over 20, 000 trees had been planted in under-greened and the under-privileged areas throughout South Africa.
Today Richard is grateful to have realized the goals set in 2007. Klipopmekaar is a thriving living happy farm. Its soils are healthy and productive. And it’s one of the largest, organic Rooibos farms in the world. Between Klipopmekaar, BOS Ice Tea and its valued suppliers, hundreds of jobs have been created in the South African economy and beyond in Europe and the USA. BOS has significantly increased the world-wide awareness of Rooibos tea, its proudly South African roots, its premium qualities, and its spirited African identity.
By combining his experience as both rooibos farmer and successful tea brand entrepreneur, Richard is able to assist valued customers (who are also premium tea brand owners) with the reliable supply of their rooibos, and the marketing of their brands relationship to their authentic Klipopmekaar single estate origin. When premium brand owners source their rooibos from Klipopmekaar, they work with a farmer who understands their business needs, the global rooibos supply/value chain, and how to grow the relationship for the long-term benefit of all concerned.
Looking ahead, Richard believes that the Rooibos industry has a unique opportunity to contribute to growing the South African economy by:
- Cohesively improving pan-industry farming and processing standards/techniques to become world leaders in tea production
- Working together to build a socially & environmentally progressive industry for the benefit of all stakeholders
- Marketing Rooibos as a proudly South African premium herbal tea with scientifically proven health benefits
- Innovating to create new and exciting Rooibos products (and related IP) which are value-add manufactured in South Africa (rather than in foreign territories) and generate profits for South Africans.
Richard and his wife Karin look forward to supplying your Rooibos needs.