Living Hope is a longtime ER partner located near Cape Town, South Africa. The following story reflects how its Agriculture and Business Training Programme is creating sustainability by teaching students tunnel farming (tunnel-shaped greenhouses) along with successful business practices. This story first appeared in Living Hope’s February 2015 newsletter.
Tapiwa Chasumba is a businessman at heart. Prior to starting the Agriculture and Business Programme, he ran his own barbershop and sold CDs. Upon enrolling in Phase 1 of the programme, Tapiwa learned the importance of moving into untapped markets and strategically positioning products.
“In class we did a project selling oranges in Masiphumelele (a large local settlement),” says Tapiwa. “People liked buying them from me because no one else was selling oranges.”
Tapiwa quickly realized this was an untapped market for fresh, high-quality produce and began selling tomatoes he had grown on the farm. When the training took a break for the extended Christmas holiday our staff encouraged students to continue to utilize their knowledge to develop their business skills. Tapiwa knew he wanted to expand his new produce stand and had just the place in mind.
“At the entrance to Masiphumelele everyone seemed to think you could only sell second-hand clothes. So I decided to put up a table to sell produce. There is no competition for me.”
He arranged to go with a friend to the commercial market in Epping, located 25 miles north of his home, where produce is sold in bulk. Upon seeing what was available, he contracted a person to source produce from the market and bring it to Masiphumelele for his stand.
“At first I was just selling when I had the time,” says Tapiwa. “But then people kept asking, ‘When are you selling?’ and I realized that it was important for me to sell every day because people should know they can buy from you every time.”
Tapiwa now sells produce to the community every day of the week. “In the morning before class I get my tables out and produce set up. Then my wife sells during the day. Before this, my wife was sitting at home doing nothing. Now she starts selling at 8 a.m. each day and goes until 7 p.m.
“It is a good place to be because everyone is walking past on their way to work or coming home. Even cars stop to buy. I am selling grapes, tomato, kale, potatoes, onions, pears, many things.”
When asked about his future business opportunities, Tapiwa says with a confident smile, “I’m expecting it to grow”.
Tapiwa’s business is growing because of the skills he learned through the Agricultural and Business Programme. We look forward to his continued learning and more great things to come.
Living Hope is looking for sponsors and volunteers with farm experience to boost its Agriculture and Business Training Programme. Interested? Visit www.livinghope.co.za
Gerrit Kleynhans manages the Agriculture and Business Training Programme for Living Hope. Living Hope’s slogan is “Bringing Hope, Breaking Despair”. Collectively, it reaches more than 40,000 people annually through programs that fight homelessness, poverty, HIV/AIDS/TB and other chronic diseases, unemployment, and substance abuse.
Each year, Extreme Response sends volunteer teams to work with Living Hope, including a Christmas Celebration team scheduled for Nov. 15-25, 2015. To learn more, visit www.extremeresponse.org/our-programs/christmas-celebrations