Could women play a significant role in sustainable development for Africa? Certainly, they can and Mavis Nduchwa is surely doing a lot to make this happen. Mavis is the founder and CEO of Chabana Farms – and of the sister company, Chabana Investment.
Mavis is from Botswana and her aim is to empower women and young people from her country through job opportunities in agriculture.
Impakter has reached out to Mavis to speak about Chabana farms. Mavis has just returned from a trip to neighbour countries where she was looking for market opportunities for Chabana farms. Coming from Botswana, a country that used to import most of the food that is consumed by its population, we can already see the impact of Mavis’ activities. Here’s what she had to say about her company.
How did you start Chabana farms?
Mavis Nduchwa: I was born thirty-five years ago in the city of Francistown, Botswana. I grew up on a farm where my family farmed various crops. It all started with my great grandmother: since then, women in my family before me all did exceptionally well in agriculture. Through agriculture we were able to go to school. I did well at school and after graduating I went to work in Safari camps as a manager. I, then, saw the need to start Chabana farms to help create employment as well as do something that I truly love. My grandmother inspired me as I watched her over the years single handedly raise our family from her agriculture earnings.
In what kind of businesses is Chabana farms involved? What about Chabana Investment?
M.N.: Chabana farms, as a business entity, manufactures and processes various foods using locally grown crops. We have the seeds production which we started due to the demand and lack of affordable high quality locally grown crops. We also have a network of farmers who supply us with raw materials.
The recent addition to the group is the honey sector, through which we hope to empower many women in communities around the country. I recently returned from Kenya and Zambia where I had gone for benchmarking in order to help us scale up our honey business side, as we now have contracts to export to neighbouring countries.
Chabana Investment fund was recently launched to help farmers who want to venture into agribusiness but have issues including of lack of capital as well as its not easy access to land. We fund, train, mentor, incubate and find markets for our women farmers. It works in a very simple but effective way: for instance we could fund a farmer to buy beekeeping equipment, train them in beekeeping, we walk through them all stages till harvesting. We then provide the market through purchasing honey from them. Farmers have easy terms to repay their small loans in order to help other farmers through the fund as well.
Do you think your business has the potential the grow in the next couple of years?
M.N.: 80% of the population does some form of agriculture here, so we are looking at a total of 2 million people, including our exports to countries such as Lesotho and Namibia. Over the last few years we have seen people warming up to the idea of locally produced foods, especially in a country like Botswana, where we import almost all our food. It’s now easier for young people to find markets out there through the free trade areas and the reduced tariffs. The clientele base is growing as we keep introducing new markets.