Africa-Press – Namibia. A SINGLE mother and student has started her own vegetable garden, which now creates employment for others amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen thousands across the country losing their jobs.
Selma Nasheya started Mehafo Sustainable Solutions, which sells vegetable produce, in June last year. The company currently provides spinach, round cherry tomatoes, strawberries, sweet basil, red, white and spring onions, as well as various varieties of fancy lettuce.
Despite obtaining a postgraduate qualification, and having over eight years of international work experience, Nasheya said the reality has been harsh and the hustle has been real.
She told The Namibian on Monday that she was driven to venture into business due to the current challenging employment environment, a lack of financial support and food and economic insecurity.
She said her prolonged mental distress and her faith in what she’s passionate about were the inspirations behind starting the business, despite not having any capital.
“We currently have three permanent staff members and get part-time workers depending on labour needs, such as cleaning, harvesting and packaging,” she said.
The business acquired the land and had its first harvest in September. As demand for the company’s ‘chemical free’ fresh produce increases, Nasheya hopes to incorporate innovative designs in the production model.
“Being an MBA student and single mom with no other income, time and money are my biggest limited resources. As an organic urban gardener, the general agribusiness challenges include the need to implement systematic processes, market analysis, soil fertility, pest management, stakeholder engagement and financial and administrative management,” she said.
Approximately N$1,5 million has been invested in the business, however, shareholders and employees do not receive salaries, she said. The production process includes soil preparation, sowing, combination planting, as well as rotational planting.
“We do our best to employ sustainable organic techniques, although it is very challenging given environmental and market value chain challenges,” Nasheya said.
“With our hope to incorporate agritech in our work, we expect a slight increase in operational costs but this would boost production and access to our nutritious fresh produce.”
CLIENTELE So far, the business provides services to the Ohlthaver & List Group, The MarketPlaceand Namica. “We largely buy our seeds locally from Agri-Gro Namibia. We use chicken manure from Groot-Aub Fresh Producer’s poultry project.
“We will be starting to produce our own compost using municipal waste and waste from our garden in the second quarter of this year,” she said.
The company’s business model is based on collaboration and sustainability. Mehafo Sustainable Solutions is both a strategic and management agribusiness social enterprise, which exists to contribute towards some sustainable development goals.
“Our vision is to go beyond food production and drive sustainable livelihoods through raising awareness and adding value, to boosting economic productivity across various industries,” Nasheya said.