Kudzai Makaza recently graduated from Harare Institute of Technology after studying food processing. She has made a point of putting her education to good use as quickly as possible by founding the start-up Artisanal Foods.
Normally, this might not be the type of story that would be worthy of significant coverage in a news outlet that focuses on major stories related to Zimbabwe’s politics and current events.
However, this story may be unique given the way in which Makaza is attempting to support the health of the people of Zimbabwe with her company. According to Makaza herself, “My desire was to produce highly nutritious, affordable, functional foods targeted towards the mass market in Zimbabwe who were seeking a healthy alternative for a preventative diet.”
Makaza is striving to achieve this goal by offering healthful products which align with the tastes of many Zimbabwe residents. Specifically, her company is offering such items as baobab juice, green banana flour, and green banana porridge.
When discussing how she and the other major decision-makers at her company arrived at their decision to offer certain items, Makaza stated “We discovered that the solution was in fruits found here in our country. We have baobab and banana that are high in vitamins C and A, potassium and iron. So we came up with a baobab juice, green banana flour and green banana porridge that is affordable to anyone.”
This statement highlights another goal of Makaza’s: ensuring that these healthful foods are also affordable for her target customers. Makaza ambitiously wants to provide her customers with nutrition while also limiting how much they have to spend on her company’s products.
It’s also worth noting that Artisanal Foods aims to honor the traditional culture of Zimbabwe that has arguably been eroded due to rapid urbanization. For example, baobab juice used to be quite popular among families in rural areas of the country due to the way in which it supplies much-needed nutrition in an efficient manner. This has changed as people who used to rely on baobab juice for their nutritional needs have begun consuming more processed foods. Makaza hopes her company can reintroduce this nutritious option to those who used to consume it regularly in the past.
Makaza also gives credit to her experiences as a student when explaining why she decided to pursue this particular business idea. She has said, “Each year at university we were required to come up with a food product or process. After finishing my studies I decided that commercialising some of my ideas from my assignments would be great instead of letting a project just die.”
That’s not to say she thrived at first. According to Makaza, “When I started producing my fruit smoothies and I was struggling to find a ready market for my product and I thought I was not going to make it, a friend advised me to try Mbare Musika.”
Mbare Musika is a popular trading market. It is at this market that Artisanal Foods found a customer base.
The business continues to grow. Its young founder wants to ensure the people of her country have access to healthful and nutritious food options that will appeal to their current tastes. Again, these admirable goals warrant paying attention to the company, even if it may be fairly new.