Mavis Zaina is a chartered accountant with over 8 years’ experience in strategic management, accounting and finance.
But beyond her accountancy, Mavis is passionate about the agricultural value chain and its potentially high impact reach for poverty alleviation and development. Driven by this passion, Mavis founded Kanjadza Acres.
Kanjadza Acres is an agricultural enterprise that grows fruits and vegetables together with employing 10 locals. Mavis’ overall aim is to become a world-class entity participating in the end to end agricultural value chain. Through this, she hopes to create jobs and wealth for her community and eventually Africa.
What made you desire to start a business in agriculture?
I have always been fascinated by the agricultural value and the impact and change it has on an economy and its people. Specifically, I decided to focus on horticulture because of its high productivity and value.
With this passion, I launched my agribusiness journey. It has been quite exciting as the margins made are good and the products are often demanded and used daily in my community.
How friendly is the Malawian business environment to young female horticulturists?
I think the business environment is challenging. The value chain is highly informal so the hustle is real to find market information that drives production and this results in unpredictability.
You have to be as strategic as possible and also very resilient and tough. Males dominate marketing and supply and many assume that as a young female, you are naive and vulnerable.
I once harvested a lot of cassava, and cassava must be sold or processed the very day it’s harvested or it changes colour and customers shun it. I went to the market once I was done the harvesting. Knowing it was my first time, buyers undermined me and started changing the agreed prices.
Refusing to bow down, I took a chance and went to offload at a new market. My risk paid off as I was able to sell all the cassavas. Although, since I stayed much later, I had to hire security as thieving gangs often disrupt women-led businesses. This is price men don’t have to pay.
How can the business environment be improved for young entrepreneurs?
For the business environment to improve, we need clear and functioning value chains and infrastructure. I also believe in mentorship and so having agribusiness incubators and accelerators is key.
These two accompanied by financing options would really do wonders for the environment.
Has collaborating worked for you? And why do you think it’s important for women?
I love collaborating because synergies created through collaboration can be very transformative. But just like any worthwhile relationship, it requires a good amount of work to find good collaborative partners, not just because we are in the same field, or because we are friends.
Collaboration should be done objectively and soberly. Otherwise, most end up in turmoil and discord.
Are they any women that have helped you in your journey?
I look up to many women in my life. My mother, for example, has provided me with the drive, determination and support system to be able to pursue my dreams. Another woman who supported me is Ngaba Chatata.
As a fellow farmer, Ngaba has advised me on horticultural production. It was after I visited her farm that I realized she was living the life I wanted. This challenged me to go an start my own business.
Overall, the women in my life have motivated me and provided me with a support system that has kept me going. They keep reminding me that with diligence and focus I will be successful.
What mistakes did you make in business and how can other women avoid that?
I made and still make lots of mistakes. They make me grow and redirect me. So first, realise that mistakes can be lessons.
My biggest mistake was doing too much too soon. I tried to build Rome in a day and lost money and time. So learning to be patient and work one step at a time is one great lesson to learn.
Secondly, it is important to draw up a plan, do research and map your journey. Although plans change, having one will grant you focus and purpose. With this, you will also be able to track progress.
Lastly, stay in your lane. Do not compare yourself to others. Journeys differ and comparison has a way of killing off your motivation and making you ungrateful.Work on your hustle and keep your eyes ahead. - Mavis-Zaina Kanjadza Click To Tweet
Any final words to our Motherland moguls?
Find out what you want to do and do it. Know your purpose and pursue it militantly. You can do anything but only with clarity of purpose and hard work.