The ABC Transforming Youths Livelihoods in Gokwe South

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Posted on , 11 February 2021

“Fortune favors the brave” is a popular expression that describes how courage breaks borders and initiates a breakthrough in one’s life.

It is often so easy when you see someone very successful to be oblivious of how they got there, most people get blinded by the present success and think that they came from affluent backgrounds.

Lack of training is the greatest barrier preventing youths from establishing solid businesses out of their self-operations. 

Young people often rely on their personal skills to earn a living and a lot of youths have failed to establish solid businesses.

Phillimon Mahlalela a 36-year-old father of two shares his story about how the Agriculture Business Centre (ABC) a European Union-funded project that is being implemented by Welthungerhilfe and Empretec Zimbabwe in Gokwe South District located 356 kilometers West of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare has helped him change his destiny by empowering him to become an established poultry farmer specialising in indigenous breeds in Gokwe.

“Two and half years ago l was running my own shop at Gokwe Town, the shop specialized in selling cell phone, cell phone accessories and other different accessories”.

Philimon Mahlalela in his fowl run

“With the zeal to expand my entrepreneurship knowledge and skills, l booked for an entrepreneurship training in Kwekwe so that l could become a well-established entrepreneur specializing in Information Communication Technology (ICT) accessories. I was supposed to pay USD $20.00 for the training” says Mahlalela.

Mahlalela says before he attended the training in Kwekwe, he got the news that the ABC was offering the same training free of charge in Gokwe to youths. I decided to attend the training although I was sceptical in the first place.

In December 2018, I attended the Entrepreneurship Training Workshop (ETW) that was being facilitated by EMPRETEC Zimbabwe. It is during this training that l learned a lot of things that have greatly helped me build my business.

“The six (6) day training workshop was more important in my life as it offered me more practical skills that changed both my entrepreneurship skills and the way l viewed it, the other strategy that l learned was keeping records”.

After attending the ETW workshop Mahlalela identified a need in the market to supply hatchery services and also specialise in road runner breed, this was driven by his recognition of the need to create a constant supply of pure road runner chickens in Gokwe.

“I made this decision after noticing that a lot of people put their focus on broiler chickens and hyline layers, so l opted to go my own way taking risks”.

This decision was also influenced by the fact that I had a fowl run lying idle for 5 years, l decided to make use of it. In February 2019 Mahlalela bought his batch of 300-day old Boshveld chicks.

By July the chicks had grown up and there were 100 layers and 132 cocks, I then sold 80 

cocks by September the layers started laying eggs.

The ABC has been a great pillar of strength to my business, I was given a loan which l used to buy a 352-capacity incubator with a full set of a solar system that is batteries, inverter, regulator. From the loan l also managed to extend my fowl runs from the one l had which was 12m x 3m to a bigger one measuring 12mx 6m.

Different chicken breeds that are owned by Philimon Mahlalela

Through another Welthungerhilfe project EXTRA, I was given a grant of 60% and I added 40%. I used that grant to buy a bigger incubator with a capacity of 1760 and 2x 400 watts solar panels. I also used the grant to purchase Boer F1 breed goat because l am also planning to venture into goat breeding.

The business has been performing fairly well as I have managed to buy six (6) beasts and five (5) goats.

In 2019 The ABC hosted Global Entrepreneurship Week , Mahlalela managed to win USD 370 for best pitching. At the recently held  Global Entrepreneurship Week 2020, Mahlalela walked away with the overall best youth entrepreneur award and got USD 300.00.

Although l was trained in 2019, The ABC through its Business Advisory Services (BDS) continues to offer me business mentorship, business advisory, and other services free of charge hence I continue to learn a lot of things thereby increasing my business knowledge says Mahlalela.

“Through the ABC activities l have been privileged to attend various workshops that mainly do with poultry management, egg handling procedures and stock feed formulation. Through one of the workshops that I attended l am now able to formulate my chicken feed using cheap available resources thereby reducing costs of feed and at the same time increasing my profit margins”.

Mahlalela further states that the ABC project has greatly changed his family’s life, considering the current economic conditions “if I had not ventured into poultry I could be struggling since the cellphone business is no longer lucrative as people now put their focus on putting food on their tables”.

“In the next 5 years I will be leading in hatching services within Midlands province and also the supplier of roadrunner chicks eggs and all roadrunner breeds in the midlands province”.

To fulfil that vision of becoming a reputable chick supplier and accessing bigger markets, Mahlalela registered his business in 2019. The business is known as P Mahlalela Enterprises PBC.

“My wife Praise Mukuvazvivi plays a crucial role in the running of our project as she is the one who does all the record keeping and management of the business, she is one of the beneficiaries of Entrepreneurship Training Workshop (ETW).