A GROUP of villagers in ward 18, Lupane district, is producing organic face and hair oils as part of a community empowerment initiative.
The villagers, who have registered a company Madojwa Enterprises, are now pushing for their products to be certified by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe.
Their company was formerly registered in December 2018.
They said the project had enabled them to fend for their families and communities through proceeds from the sale of the mongongo or manketti oil from mongongo tree nuts. Its nuts are also edible
On Sunday, the villagers told Southern Eye that their vision was to grow the company into one of the biggest organic oil suppliers in the country.
“We want to develop our families as well as our community. We are, however, facing a challenge of marketing our products due to network challenges,” Madojwa Enterprises chairperson Claudius Ngwenya (82) said.
The company comprises 18 women and three men and its market is currently in Lupane and Bulawayo.
To kickstart their business, the villagers were assisted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation which donated a crushing machine and built a factory where they are operating from.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) chipped in with US$5 000 after the group came first in a competition called Simuka-Phakama Green Enterprise Innovation Challenge.
To mentor the small and medium enterprises, ILO partnered with Hand in Hand Zimbabwe (HHZ), a non-profit organisation, that helps resource-limited and marginalised people in rural communities, particularly women and youth, to create better livelihoods for themselves.
“As HHZ, we are delighted to work with ILO. As part of the partnership, we are supposed to mentor eight small-to-medium enterprises that are in Lupane, Bulilima, Gwanda, Esigodini and Zvishavane,” HHZ director of programmes Emmanuel Makiwa said.
Madojwa Enterprises members said they would use part of the money they won to buy a solar-powered crushing machine with a capacity of producing 120 litres of oil a day.
“This project is very helpful to us. For instance, I use the money we are generating from this project to pay school fees and fend for my family,” a member Magret Nyoni said.
Currently, the company produces about 50 litres of mongongo oil per month.
Southern Eye also visited Zebras group, situated in Matshiya ward in Lupane, which is into paraffin manufacturing using discarded plastic bottles.
Zebras chairperson Siphethangani Dube said following business mentorships they received from HHZ, they were now producing 80 litres of paraffin a month.