Tichaona Malidadi, 54, is married to Sekai. Together they have 2 children, Aaron (aged 17) and lgnatious (11). Tichaona lives in the rural part of Chitungwiza called Seke. Last year, unemployed, he travelled to Utano, in central urban Chitungwiza, where he joined a group (mostly women) learning to make petroleum jelly. Unfortunately, during the course, the distance from Seke to Utano (about 10km) proved to be too much of a barrier for Tichaona. He dropped out but did not give up; instead, he turned his attention to starting the same project with his wife Sekai, who was also unemployed.
It was difficult to start from scratch but he used his limited resources to buy a few ingredients and began petroleum jelly making, with the support of his family. At first, Tichaona was only selling his products within his local community. However, it didn't take long before the demand for petroleum jelly from nearby farmers soon saw his client base expand to the surrounding area. Fortunately, there was very little competition, allowing Tichoana to dominate the market.
Tichoana soon took on another venture: the maize trade. Indeed, by exchanging petroleum jelly for maize (which was in abundance on the farms due to a good rainy season), Tichaona was able to sell the maize on to his local community for a profit. He also began roasting some of the maize to make 'maputi', a popular Zimbabwean popcorn snack. This was sold to farmworkers and travellers, increasing Tichoana's profits multifold.
Next Tichoana began soap making! Tichoana had learnt to make herbal soap (derived from garlic) through another NGO some years before. With his increased income from maputi and petroleum jelly, he was now able to buy the ingredients needed to start producing soap too.
The product was incredibly popular amongst the local community. As it is derived from garlic, the soap is seen to have many health benefits and its users have reported seeing improvements in skin conditions such as rashes caused by antiretroviral medication used by HIV patients.
SEED is delighted to see Tichoana's entrepreneurial spirit take him and his wife from strength to strength. Thanks to their increased income, they are able to send their children to school, aiming to improve their future opportunities.
The Covid-19 travel restrictions enforced by the Zimbabwean government have greatly impacted Tichoana's ability to reach his customer base.
Luckily, Tichoana's prior success put him in a better position and enabled him to meet his family's basic needs. Tichoana stays positive and looks to the future, when he knows his products will be in great demand again.
Tichoana's inspiring story demonstrates the impact skills training can have, not only for individuals, but also for a whole community, which gained access to new products at affordable prices.