Nyamasoka shines in business

Mar 9, 2023

March is a special month dedicated to women.

Forty year-old Lillian Nyamasoka, regional managing director of the Shawasha Group, is a proud woman.

Shawasha Group has subsidiaries, ShawashAgri here in Zimbabwe and Agro Shawasha in Mozambique and they are involved in cotton contract farming.

ShawashAgri Public Relations and Marketing Officer Munyaradzi Doma (MD) had a chat with the businesswoman (LN) who opened up on a wide range of issues.

MD: How did the company start?

LM: The company started in 2009, we started off by supporting sesame as a contract farming method. We had 100 farmers when we started then we grew overtime and decided to participate in cotton. To date we do more than two products, we do sesame, cotton, maize and soya beans as well. We always encourage our farmers to do cotton and any other two crops because cotton is our prime crop and the regions that we work in are drought prone, they can only produce cotton and sesame.

MD: What is a day like in her shoes?

LM: It is a very tough day, every day is different from the previous day. You end the previous day on a good note, you start the next day on a bad note, so it always has a different feel and different challenge. One thing I can tell you is being a captain of a ship in the sea is never easy, one minute there is the wind, next minute is the sun, the next is the storm and these things are what happen to us.

MD: How did the business grow?

LM: We started the business through own funding; we started from sesame and increased financing so to date we have moved on along with that. But there is always a challenge in obtaining finance from development partners because the perception of being a woman is either you don’t know, you are incapable. But today we are proud to have a company that stands and employs which is very important for the industry and the economy.

MD: How many people are employed within the company?

LM: Within the group we employ over 1 200 people and these numbers are going to be growing because we are continuously diversifying. What we want to see is employment and want to see improvement of skills and knowledge.

MD: What are some of the major highlights of your career?

LM: I worked in different positions, I have worked as an MD for a company that did multiple operations, I have worked as an executive for a cotton company which was a partnership with the Chinese and today I’m working with Shawasha Group. Last year I was awarded the Outstanding and Game Changing Agriculture Executive at the Vital Concept Agro Summit and this year she was nominated for the Women Changing the World Awards.

MD: Any challenges

LM: In every career, we all encounter challenges but we have managed to find solutions through strategy, passion, zeal and obviously the capacity to drive this to do the business. We are in the business for profits and our partners who are our farmers are in the business because of their entrepreneurial mindset. They are also in the business for profits. The major challenge is obtaining finance but we have always overcome it by being able to access from willing partners.

MD: What is your target market and why

LM: Our target market is small holder communal lands, majorly in the drought prone areas, why, because they are the most in need of financial support and we are there to bridge the gap and take the risk to support them. Our model of business is also to support families within the communal areas so that we also participate in alleviating poverty. We also impart knowledge and skills so that they can be more sustainable and communities can gain more and develop.

MD: What are your future plans?

LM: Our future plans are to have a full value chain line of our main lines where we are full into production from farm, to process and to the final consumer for instance we need to provide adequate food security but we don’t eat raw maize, do we? We have to value add it to mealie-meal so this is where we are going. Five years from now definitely, I see Shawasha heading into research and development. We need to get adequate information on seed varieties, we need to get adequate information on value addition. We need to research more; we have got new diseases coming onto this planet earth and we need to keep doing research. The world is now ever changing, right now we are facing it in our farming environment and as we speak now our yields are decreasing, we need to know the cause.

MD: Advice to upcoming farmers?

LM: I love farming and it is high time farming becomes more of a business than just farming that is why I ended up giving an opportunity to those around me through contract farming and earn an extra income through bulk marketing. My advice is that farming it is actually a good thing to go into and to be more independent and have good income and above all to contribute to the food basket of the nation.


*the story was originally published in the H-Metro on 7 March 2023




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