Mavis Nduchwa – Botswana
Mavis Nduchwa is one of Botswana’s most successful farmer and businesswoman. Her company Chabana Farms is an all integrated farm that processes various foods from locally grown crops and reared livestock. Occupying a 247 acre land in Semitwe, Tutumwe, Botswana Chabana Farms grow grains and legumes of varying kinds and rear livestock such as cattle, goats, pigs and donkeys.
Although she was born into a family of farmers, Nduchwa only ventured into farming eight years ago when she realised the high cost of agricultural inputs was strangling her farming community. Farmers in her community were also stuck on farming the traditional way and she sort to change that. Harnessing tech, she created a more commercial farming venture to provide affordable organic food for her community and the people of Botswana.
Chabana Farms operates a social venture for unemployed single mothers with its poultry and piggery farming. The company also has an Investment Fund that provides farmers, particularly women farmers with startup capital, training, mentorship, incubation and a market. Some of these farmers are given money to invest in growing cash crops like chilli, which is then bought from them by Chabana Farms, processed, packaged and supplied to the market. Others are trained in beekeeping and the company purchases honey from them after the harvest. This improves the livelihoods of these women farmers and addresses sustainable economic empowerment.
Nduchwa’s aim is to promote women in modern farming and make farming appealing to youths by erasing stereotypic societal challenges, empowering them and showing just how profitable the business of Agriculture can be. Once, the Botswanan government awarded Chabana Farms a $2 million contractto supply jugo beans to the local market and in a good rainy season the company can make up to $1.5 million in profits.
Iriya Jona – Namibia
Iriya Jona is the founder of Nam-Oceanic Kelp Production Enterprise, a startup that processes seaweed to chicken feed. Namibia has an abundance of Atlantic coastline, hence an abundance of seaweed. Nam-Oceanic collects seaweeds washed ashore the country’s coastlines and make them into chicken feed products that are supplied to local poultry farmers.
In an interview with LoA, Jona said the high cost of animal feed and its impact on the profit of Namibian farmers prompted her to start her business. Also, the recent drought spells in Namibia have resulted in the death of livestock due to hunger, and she wanted to help in her own way.
Jona’s chicken feeds are organic, low cost and highly nutritious as seaweeds contain rare nutrients needed to boost chicken production. According to a journal on Animal Feed Science and Technology, seaweed is highly recommended in livestock diets to improve their immune status, improve egg production and quality, and reduce the abdominal and subcutaneous fat thickness to improve meat quality. It is a natural antibiotic for livestock and poultry, hence it can also be used to supplement other required nutrients in animal diets.
Jona is excited about the potential of her business to empower people and really looking forward to expanding it by venturing into other seaweed product production. In March, she was named ‘Top Female Entrepreneur’ in Total’s StartUpper of the Year challenge. “There is so much potential and we are just starting,” she said.
Nondumiso Pikashe – South Africa
Nondumiso Pikashe, the owner of Ses’fikile Wines, started her business out of curiosity. According to her, she was always fascinated by the dual symbolism of the alcoholic beverage; on one hand, it is associated with broken homes, and on the other, it the face of sophistication. To satisfy her curiosity, Pikashe left her teaching job of over a decade to venture into winemaking, a journey that has placed her on a path to empower women, break stereotypes and transform perceptions.
Pikashe partnered with a winery and started making Ses’fikile Wines with a group of women, a passionate team of winemakers and a viticulturist. She chooses the grapes and blends for the product portfolio and is also responsible for marketing. ‘Ses’fikile’ in Xhosa means ‘we have arrived’. It is an attestation to Pikashe’s success in an industry where black South African women are rare, and also the introduction of a proudly indigenous wine.
“My wines symbolize the impact that the growing number of women within the industry are making, regardless of the challenges and obstacles they face,” she told Forbes Africa, adding that she is frustrated by the pace of change in the industry as little is being done to pique the interest of young black girls in winemaking. To spur the change she wants to see, Pikashe works with colleges to introduce students to career options in viticulture.
Tatenda Ndambakuwa – Zimbabwe
Tatenda Ndambakuwa is passionate about eradicating hunger in Africa, starting from her country, Zimbabwe. She experienced extreme food shortages in the country in 2008 and resolved to work on food security which also means working on agriculture. To do this she created Shiri, a comprehensive data science-based app that serves as a resource hub of agricultural information for farmers across Africa. This helps them to optimize their food production system and minimize inefficiencies and post-harvest spoilage.
Shiri provides several solutions like ‘Connect to Plan’ and ‘Connect to Share’; these solutions allow smallholder farmers to share resources like farm equipment since not all farmers can afford them. They give weather alerts and has in-built customized record keeping to help farmers plan. They also connect farmers with other farmers, vendors, suppliers and markets. Shiri has a number of community initiatives that see it partner with schools and universities to engage students and inspire a new generation of people that understands the importance of agriculture.
To create Shiri, Ndambakuwa put together a team of women – an agricultural scientist, a software developer, and a geospatial and data scientist, all from Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and the United States. This team of women intend to grow Africa’s farming community by building a network of prosperous farmers and for Shiri to become one of the continent’s largest agricultural resource hubs.
Sarah Kennan – South Africa
Sarah Kenan’s brand of distilled liquor, Leonista, is uniquely African; it is the first 100 percent Karoo agave spirit in South Africa that is made in the traditional Mexican way. Kenan ventured into spirit making while trying to explore her creativity away from her field of study, marketing and accounting. Initially, she was making tequila in a friends garage for fun, but the great reviews received from people who tasted it made Kenan decide to explore spirit distillation wholly.
Kenan took a trip to Mexico to learn the traditional Mexican art of making Tequila, then returned to South Africa to replicate it using Agave plants grown in the Karoo, a semiarid region of Western Cape. The process involves baking harvested agaves, crushing these baked agaves, then fermenting the juice, followed by distilling and ageing. This gives Leonista its delicious smokey flavour similar that is akin to a Mezcal.
Kenan is working hard at building a sustainable organic brand as well as providing revenue and infrastructure for the Karoo region. “I wanted to replicate what I saw in Mexico in South Africa to create the same revenue stream to support the farmers and create jobs,” she said in an interview with Fairlady Magazine.
Bupe Chipili Mulapesi – Zambia
Bupe Chipili Mulapesi grows strawberries and supplies them to local markets in Zambia. Her company Farm23 Strawberry makes quality strawberries and strawberry products affordable and accessible to Zambians as the fruit is often imported and sold at a high cost. According to her, she started growing strawberries after a female strawberry farmer based in Australia encouraged her to start.
Also, seeing how other African countries, particularly Kenya, have commercialized strawberry farming on a large scale was a source of motivation for her. Besides farming, Mulapesi is working to empower other women farmers in Zambia by partnering with them to grow strawberries for exportation.
“Our goal is to satisfy both the local and international markets with the best quality of strawberry fruit in terms of taste and a long shelf life,” Mulapesi told LoA. “Our products are characterized by a creative and innovative high-value addition concept.”
Afie Braimoh – Nigeria
Afie Braimoh is the owner of SACFruits dried Fruits, a Nigerian company that produces healthy fruit snacks in the form of dried fruit slices. Her company was born out of a need to tackle waste in food produce and to create a sustainable value chain to empower farmers.
Prior to setting up her own company, Braimoh who was helping to set up a fruit juice company for a client in Benue, first considered towing the same line of setting up a juice company but considering their shelf life, she had a rethink. She began experimenting by drying fruits in her kitchen dehydrator and after some weeks of doing that, gave out samples at her office, church and to friends and family.
The feedback she got encouraged her to seek and get the approval of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Nigeria. In less than a year after her launch, SACFruits was in over 70 stores across the country. That number has increased to over 200 stores currently. Read more about Afie Braimoh.
Assumpta Uwamariya – Rwanda
Assumpta Uwamariya is the founder of Karisimbi Wines, a company she established in 2016 after years of being in the unemployment market and doing casual jobs that didn’t give her enough money. It was while working one of such casual jobs with a German-funded project in Ruhengeri in the Musanze District of Rwanda, that her attention was drawn to the economic benefits of fruits.
Uwamariya’s job at the time was to purchase food items and make juice for the staff of the organization. During this time, she began research on how she could make wine from fruits and got introduced to a wine-maker in Germany who taught her how. Having gained that skill, she started experimenting with beetroot and pineapple. She got great reviews for her experiments and decided to ride that wave. Uwamariya made her first batch of commercial wine in January 2016 and established her company. Read more about Assumpta Uwamariya.