Read full article By Enacy Mapakame @ The Sunday Mail Photo Credit: ICRISAT
A self-taught entrepreneur, Blessing Machiya identified and sought to address one of the major problems bedevilling developing countries especially in Africa – hunger and malnutrition.
She decided to venture into food manufacturing, which saw the birth of Shumbakadzi Investments, a business enterprise that is now gearing for the export market.
“From 2018 I have been producing dried fruits as a healthy snack alternative. I am in the process of re-branding the company to be recognised as a leading manufacturer of food that promotes health and general wellness and have started producing a gluten free, high fibre millet porridge that contains peanut butter..
“The whole idea behind being a wholesome food producer came about as I wanted to create products that are not targeted at a particular section of the economic spectrum but to have products that can be affordably consumed by everyone as food security has become a huge concern for the majority of people.
“The rise in numbers of children with stunted growth and malnutrition is really a cause for concern and with climate change affecting farming of certain products, millets in Africa will become the key to achieving zero hunger,” she said.
Ever since the launch of Shumbakadzi in 2018, she has not looked back but pushed ahead, value adding locally produced foods, ensuring no food goes to waste while also creating employment.
‘‘One of the challenges that face small holder farmers in Zimbabwe is post-harvest losses due to poor storage facilities or lack of access to markets.
But Machiya’s business sought to address this challenge and ensure there is food security in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Exposure to other agri-preneurs at conferences such as AGRF 2018 and 2019 have helped in the decision to steer the vision of the business towards ensuring zero wastage, health and food security for all as part of the SDGs.
“My vision is to have the brand identified as a leading supplier of naturally grown healthy and affordable products. Worldwide demand for healthy food has been growing over the past couple of years,” said Machiya.
Although she did secretarial studies, Machiya also understood the need to enhance her knowledge in running her business effectively and efficiently which prompted her to enrol with the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), which is a programme under the United States Department of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in collaboration with Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Management and global copper mining company Freeport-McMoran.
The programme opened doors for her as she was chosen to participate in a pitch competition where she ended up as a finalist and received a grant of US$25 000 to capacitate her business.
She said: “I am excited as this funding will make it possible to increase production capacity which will also see product quality improving and this will definitely help us manage to supply bigger quantities of products.