Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
A BULAWAYO female entrepreneur, Ms Providence Moyo, has broken new ground after she established a thriving factory that is into value addition of indigenous fruits and other organic products for local consumption and exports.
Divine Pro Company has created a niche for itself through value addition of wild fruits to produce organic juices and skin care products.
The company, which is situated in Donnington Industrial Site has been operational since 2014 and is one of the few thriving small to medium enterprises that are ready to tap into the export market.
ZimTrade, the country’s trade development and promotion agency, has already expressed interest in assisting the young company to export its products and reap higher earnings.
Its main products include hair food, fruit juice and skin care products made from baobab, marula and tamarind fruits as well as moringa plant, all of which are supplied by rural communities from communities in Lupane, Binga and Plumtree.
“Our vision is to be the most preferred company that manufactures skin care, hair care and organic juices that are harnessed from indigenous plants of Zimbabwe,” said the 45-year-old businesswoman.
A former primary school teacher who graduated with a Diploma in Education from United College of Education in 2000, Ms Moyo said while she trained as a teacher, that was not her calling.
She said she discovered her business potential later, after about 11 years in the teaching fraternity, when she left for greener pastures to South Africa where she briefly taught before quitting to pursue what she was passionate about.
“Being a teacher was not real my calling but I had to go for teaching because I was an orphan and had to look after my sisters and young brother. So, I decided that if I go for teaching, I will get a job easily,” said Ms Moyo.
“I took a bold step of faith and quit teaching while I was in South Africa and followed my passion enrolling for a course in skin care with a college in that country.
“To do that course, they wanted someone with biology passes. So, I took time and studied about the skin and I was taught how to make skin care products using the chemical way because I was good in sciences when I was at high school.”
Upon completing her studies in South Africa, she came back home and everyone was against the idea she had taken as people doubted if she would be able to make money from manufacturing skin care products.
“I can only say it was by faith, I am a believer, passionate and have got a purpose and I persevered and managed to establish this company in 2014,” said Ms Moyo.
Unlike other entrepreneurs, she never borrowed any money from the bank but rather used resources from her retirement package in South Africa.
On her return home, Ms Moyo started renting a small salon in the Central Business District from which she sold skin care and hair products that she was producing from a kitchen at her home.
She said the skin care products that Divine Pro manufactures are organically produced.
“Our vision is to be the most preferred company that manufactures skin care products that are hypoallergenic (not causing allergies). Our products don’t have what we call parabens (toxic chemicals that cause cancer); our products are free from cancer and are not skin-lightening. A lot of people are using lightening creams that disturb the nature of the skin,” said Ms Moyo.
Two years later after the formation of her company, she said she reached a turning point in her entrepreneurship ambitions when she attended a business seminar at a local hotel.
“There was Nigel Chanakira (businessman and prominent entrepreneur) and some people from the US Embassy and they were looking for women that are into business,” she recalled.
“By then there was no branding at all on my products, but they liked the idea that I was working with rural communities to get the baobab fruit and add value.”
Currently, Divine Pro works with three rural communities in Lupane, which supplies mangongo tissue, Vusanani community in Plumtree, which supplies the Bulawayo factory with marula oil and Bushingo in Hwange where baobab powder and tissue oil are also obtained. Tamarind and moringa come from Binga.
“The rural communities are benefiting a lot. I taught them how to make structures at the same time they must find out what is the value of the raw materials they are supplying and at the end of the month I pay them,” said Ms Moyo.
She said the local market was supporting her business. As part of her inspiration, Ms Moyo said she was selected to represent Southern Africa by the US Embassy in 2016 when she went to meet other entrepreneurs in America who were into skin care projects. While in the US, she visited five States such as Chicago, Miami, Denver, and Colorado.
“I then decided that let me also come back home and take my products for testing and improve on packaging so that my product can be sold countrywide and beyond,” said Ms Moyo.
It was in 2017 that she moved from the salon after getting a contract to run a beauty spar at a local hotel.
In recent years, Ms Moyo said she identified a micro-biologist to take her products for testing and this again opened avenues to have the produce taken to stores and pharmacies.
“And from there, generally the brand became well-known. And it happened that during Covid time in 2020, I had always loved the baobab juice and I started doing it at home on my own,” she said.
“The other thing that made me make the baobab juice, is during the Covid time, we wanted something that has Vitamin C. Baobab on its own its 11 percent richer in Vitamin C than an orange.”
In 2020, Ms Moyo was selected by ABioSA GIZ, a German company that was looking for an SME in the Southern region producing skin care products while also working with rural communities.
“They liked what I was doing and asked what help I wanted from them. I indicated that I was doing skin care products and at the same time there was a juice but I didn’t have machinery and I desired to get machinery, which they bought me,” said Ms Moyo.
Her company is now a member of the Southern African Essential Oil Producers and has in recent years scooped more than 11 accolades awarded by different organisations.
The young company now employs eight people and looks forward to expanding its operations whilst growing market share locally and in the export market.
“For now, in a month, we can make about 300 cases of juice with each case have 24 units of 500ml of juice and our machine produces about 430 units in three hours,” she said.
“Already because we are still growing, we desire to get more machinery and get a truck as right now we are supplying all over the country.” – @KazungaOliver.
Article Source: The Chronicle