CAMFED Association member & Agricultural Entrepreneur, Zimbabwe
Beauty was born into a large family in rural Zimbabwe. Like many others, their survival was dependent on a meagre income from market gardening. Tragedy struck when Beauty was only nine years old, and her mother died, leaving eight children bereft. Their daily struggle intensified when, six years later, their father also passed away. Beauty and her siblings would sometimes go for days without a proper meal. With no caregiver, hungry and grief-stricken, Beauty had no choice but to drop out of school.
I did not complete my education due to financial constraints, as I had lost my parents.
Those years of hardship and hunger sparked a remarkable fire within Beauty. She became determined to learn new skills, run a successful farming business and put food on the table every day. She married at 19 and moved to a nearby community, where she started farming and taking every opportunity she could to participate in local training sessions. It was at one of these that she encountered CAMFED, and started working with other young women, members of the CAMFED Association (CAMA).
Beauty shares with these female leaders a deep commitment to education, and bringing positive change to girls, young women, and communities. She joined the network in 2011. Winning the admiration of her peers, she was elected as CAMFED Association District Chairperson that same year. With training through their network, she became a mentor for secondary students under our Learner Guide Program, as well as being a Community Health Activist.
In 2016, with support from CAMFED and the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Beauty was able to go to agricultural college in Mutare. There she developed a five-year business plan, outlining her ambition to scale her enterprise from a small plot to a substantial farm with a greenhouse and drip irrigation systems. All this was mapped out with the intention of both providing for herself and her family, but also of serving her community with food, as well as with learning and employment opportunities.
Professor Charlotte Watts, DFID’s Chief Scientific Adviser, visited Beauty on her farm in June 2018, and was extremely impressed with her operation. The flourishing business had allowed Beauty to buy a new water pump and hire more workers.
Ever mindful of community needs, she was offering the farm as a feeding and learning resource to the local school. To support girls in the vulnerable period after finishing school, in a context where there are few employment opportunities, Beauty was also raising chickens for girls to take on, teaching them poultry keeping as a way to earn money and save towards their future goals.
I also donate produce and proceeds from my farm to either feed vulnerable pupils or help with their other needs that include stationery, uniforms or levies.
Continually learning and innovating, Beauty trials different crops to assess the profits and other benefits. This year, with support from DFID, she has been growing new varieties of maize and beans, which, through an intensified traditional breeding process, are enriched with iron, and therefore also higher in zinc. Through fortified crops such as these, Beauty has the potential to improve her yields, cope with climate change, and improve the health and nutrition of people in her community, particularly expectant mothers.
In 2020, alongside fellow agriculture experts Vivian Chisenga and Esnath Divasoni, Beauty led a significant expansion of CAMFED’s Agriculture Guide Program taking place across eight rural districts in Zimbabwe. Spearheading the training in Kwekwe district, Beauty demonstrated climate-smart techniques including mulching, drip irrigation using recycled water bottles, and agro-forestry – combining tree planting with crops to provide healthier soil and better yields, and retain wildlife on the land.
Rising out of a vulnerable childhood, Beauty is now a thriving agricultural entrepreneur and a pillar of her community. Equipped with education and training she is transforming lives, and using her cutting-edge farming methods to help reduce poverty, eliminate hunger, improve nutrition, and build resilience to climate change.
Through CAMFED’s investment, I got the chance to excel in climate-smart agriculture. Now I’m multiplying the benefits of my education by passing on my skills to 21 other young women in my community, employing three community members, and sending my three children to school with my profits.
Beauty is just one young woman in a powerful movement across five African countries. Together as the CAMFED Association, they are transforming a continent.
Read Professor Charlotte Watts’ blog: Beauty and beans in Kwe-Kwe