Social Entrepreneur Spotlight: Thokozani Chimasula
Back in March, Thokozani Chimasula participated in Flame Tree Initiative's Development Entrepreneurship Lab with the goal of learning new social entrepreneurship skills to increase the impact of her business, Tac-Maz Investments. Tac-Maz Investments' goal is twofold: to empower young people through employment and training, and to reduce food insecurity in peri-urban and urban communities' in Malawi through produce and livestock production.
The Development Challenge
"Current trends of food insecurity coupled with lack of nutritious food among many Malawians put Malawi at 87 out of 112 countries in the Global Hunger Index as of 2018. The Malawian diet is mainly composed of cereals, primarily maize and starchy roots. Smallholder rain-fed maize production is largely predominant and the livestock subsector remains underdeveloped, [as a result], malnutrition remains a major public health problem in Malawi." says Thokozani. At the same time, the country faces high unemployment rates. Thokozani shares that "sixty percent of young people comprise the total Malawian population with over twenty-three percent of the same population is unemployed."
It was the lack of opportunities for young people that initially inspired Thokozani to launch a social enterprise. Her entrepreneurship journey started with a tailoring, designing, and hairdressing shop that provides job opportunities to a handful of young people. However, Thokozani pivoted from this idea when she realized that food insecurity was a more pervasive issue in her community. She says, "At that moment I thought if I could start farming, I would not only contribute to job creation to young people but also contribute to the provision of adequate nutritious food to the larger population."
A Multifaceted Solution
Thokozani launched Tac-Maz Investments in 2015 to address both food insecurity and the lack of opportunities for young people. This social enterprise raises different semi-organic breeds of livestock and grows indigenous corn, pigeon peas, and vegetables. The produce is sold to customers and also used as feed for the livestock. Tac-Maz Investments works with young people and empowers them by providing skill-building opportunities in livestock and crop management.
Recently, Tac-Maz Investments launched a moringa and fruit tree project. "We will share tree seedlings to about 500 households during the 2019-2020 rain fed season," says Thokozani. She also hopes to continue involving young people in Tac-Maz Investments' operations, aiming to work with fifty in the next two to three years.
The Flame Tree Difference
Since participating in Flame Tree Initiative's DELab, Tac-Maz Investments has noticeably become more visible on social media. From the training that she received, Thokozani now uses this platform to show what her enterprise is doing to serve Malawians and to highlight the quality of Tac-Maz Investment products. Beyond social media, "We learned to reorganize ourselves and to plan our activities very well in line with our intended goals. We learned how to develop a proper business plan that we now have and is guiding our work very well. Particularly, we learned about how we can retain a committed team which was a challenge I have experienced since the start of the enterprise," says Thokozani.
Thokozani shares that social entrepreneurship is not easy. However, she continues to propel Tac-Maz Investments forward by remembering the lessons she learned in the last few years. She says, "It takes a willing heart to cling on to the dreams that one sets to achieve. At the beginning of every year, I take some time to develop my motto in line with my enterprise and this has proved to work for me. This year my motto is “No more staying in the comfort zone; it’s time to reach new heights” and believe me this is a great guide. Through my short entrepreneurship journey, I have learned that failure is not an option in any way. Failure is just a word."
Flame Tree Initiative thanks Ms. Thokozani Chimasula for providing us a deeper insight into Tac-Maz Investments' operations and growth. To stay up-to-date with Tac-Maz Investments' work, please follow them on their Facebook page. They are are also on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.