WHEN Tatenda Pemba, 35 sold her first fruit pack via WhatsApp just over two years ago, she knew her journey as an agro-prenuer had just begun.
It was at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, where fruit and vegetables became a necessity to at least to give everyone a fighting chance.
“During Covid-19, everything seemed bleak. I realised a lot of people were all about their health, a lot of people wanted to give themselves a better chance at fighting Covid-19. That is when I decided to serve my community just providing fruits, including lemon for Vitamin C,” Pemba told TheNewsReport Live in an interview.
As orders flooded her WhatsApp, Pemba felt the need to scale up.
By now she was no longer getting just an order or two daily, but dozens as many became warier about their diet.
While her business showed signs of growth, some customers were not collecting deliveries.
“People were buying but then is started having issues where people were ordering but not collecting their deliveries,” Pemba lamenting losses during that time.
It was not until she joined a business group, where the vision for her new business took a turn for the better.
“In the background we were also doing these business caucuses as couples after realising that you can lose your job at any time hence we needed to be real with ourselves. They pushed me to become better at what I do. I had to go out of my way to get a business proposal, researching and started applying myself more. We then started talking about working on the whole fruit and vegetables value chain. They got me thinking, that I might as well start from somewhere,” she said.
The 35-year-old had to devise more sustainable ways of prolonging the fruits’ shelf live and secure the supply side.
The idea for of a basket grocer was birthed.
“I ordered a little machine to dry the fruits so that I do not waste a lot of fruit when customers do not take their orders. That is how the basket grocer was born,” Pemba said.
I decided to go bigger
With her supplier, shutting down Pemba would dare to dream again.
Securing the supply side, would mean purchasing a piece of land to produce fresh vegetables.
“After registering my business, I then realised that I ha another challenge. My fruit supplier closed down their business then I started going to Mbare. I then started asking myself that if these people are planting for themselves, I should also join in the value chain-I must also be a supplier. I spoke to my husband and we used the little we had and decided to purchase a piece of land in Seke,’ she said.
As demand grew, Pemba would move to a bigger farm near Mhondoro where she is currently growing vegetables.
“After buying this piece of land, we decided to go bigger and I am grateful that my mother in law gave us a piece of land. That is where we are now in Mhondoro,” she added.
From running a WhatsApp fruit business, Pemba now employs five workers at her farm, while her project is benefitting nearly a dozen families with fresh water.
Technology made the difference
“I am so grateful for technology because i wouldn’t have afforded to reach the people. I cut down on adverting and expenses. The very first day I wrote about fruits, the next day I had orders,” she said.
Zimbabwe has witnessed more young people take up agriculture as a career path, as the sector becomes more attractive for investment.
She added: “Young people have the energy, the know-how and access to technology. So I feel that it is the young people who can take us to being the bread basket simply by applying ourselves and using the resources to raise the agricultural sector.”
“The agricultural sector, needs all the young people. We should take the torch and run with it. The younger people we have, the more sustainable it also becomes.”