Niche Market Business Thrives with AgriTrade Loan
CHIPINGE, Zimbabwe – In this rural area where most restaurants specialize in the staple meal of sadza, beef, and collard greens, 32-year-old Blessing Mashava has carved himself a “chicken and chips” niche. “I started this business a while ago when there was generally a lack of varieties of meals in the restaurant market. Sadza and stew seemed to be the only option for consumers in the area,” Mashava said.
Blessing Mashava’s potato business is flourishing due to a microfinance loan secured through the AgriTrade credit facility.
However, to sustain his fast food business niche, Mashava needs a steady supply of potatoes for the chips. Thanks to a loan from AgriTrade, he is now able to procure the potatoes at the quantities he needs (the chickens are a lot easier to get as he and his neighbors already breed them). Mashava, who had in the past relied on his own meager personal sources of funds to capitalize his business, was referred to AgriTrade by other business people in mid-2011. “Demand for our chips was very high, but we had little stock to satisfy our customers’ needs,” Mashava said. In October 2011 he secured a $ 1,500 loan through Micro King Finance – a microfinance institution participating in the AgriTrade credit facility. This amount came as a considerable windfall to his business given his scale of operations. This has enabled him to boost his business. “The AgriTrade loan was a big relief to the business. It provided me with the much needed working capital and immediately I was able to boost my potato stocks,” Mashava said. So far, he added, he has been able to maintain sufficient stocks on a regular basis. With the loan, Mashava has so far been able to buy 3.5 tons of potatoes from four smallholder farmers in communal Nyanga and Chimanimani. He has also been able to buy smaller equipment, including two deep fat fryers and a potato cutter. The loan has enabled him to employ one more staff member. He now has four staff. Mashava has also been able to start a cattle business on the side. For this he has bought some beasts from smallholder farmers in surrounding communal areas. Mashava is happy with the profit margins of his business and says his family income has increased. “This coming school term, I am looking forward to paying tuition for my children without stretching myself too much,” said the father of three.
AgriTrade is part of ZIm-AIED, which is funded by USAID and implemented by Fintrac; IRD manages AgriTrade under a subcontract to Fintrac.