Meet the entrepreneurs working to green Zimbabwe’s economy

Meet the entrepreneurs working to green Zimbabwe’s economy

Small- and medium-sized business owners are pushing Zimbabwe toward a greener,
more sustainable economy, starting locally.

At the Green enterPRIZE Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony in March 2019, 28 small business owners were recognized for creating green jobs and promoting sustainable development in Zimbabwe. These entrepreneurs, in their daily work, respond to the global challenges of environmental protection, economic development, and social inclusion.
The event was created and hosted by the ILO in collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe, the Employers Conference of Zimbabwe, and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. The Government of Sweden has pledged financial support. The day before the ceremony, a panel of experts—drawn from the sectors of enterprise development, youth and women empowerment, climate change, renewable energy, and agriculture—judged 56 entrepreneurs’ business pitches.

Criteria included potential for job creation, market opportunities, sustainability, innovation, and practical capacities and skillsets.

For many, just getting to the pitching stage was a milestone. Some finalists described the process as a “nerve-wracking experience.” Others said it helped them sharpen their communication skills.

Elizabeth Nyamuda won first prize in the “Best Green Business (Manufacturing or Service)” category. She is the founder of Tamba Washables, a small business that manufactures cloth diapers and related products, such as sanitary and breast pads. Everything is handmade.

“When you use cloth diapers, not only are you saving the environment by reducing waste in our landfills and the number of trees cut down to make single-use diapers,” Nyamuda said. “You are also saving financially.”

The production of single-use diapers worldwide requires mass deforestation, and their disposal contributes to land pollution. Her green business has the potential to transform the economy while, at the same time, reducing waste.Takudzwa Nyakanyanga caught judges’ attention and won second prize in the “Best Agribusiness” category. His business, Mycosapiens, makes use of agricultural waste to sustain a miniature mushroom farm.

The technical process involves incubating mushroom-filled bags with natural light, air, and humidity.

“It turns waste into food, and then into wealth, using the natural environment,” Nyakanyanga said.

His business promotes sustainable farming practices, as well as the creation of “green collar” jobs along the production chain.

The “Best Young Entrepreneur” category was crowded with fresh talent. Business ideas ranged from protecting crops with autonomous drones to manufacturing footwear made from scrap materials.

Zimbabwe thrives when citizens feel empowered to create green jobs in new sectors. These visionary entrepreneurs and business owners prove that change is not only possible—it’s already here.

May 16, 2019