In 2017, Talent Marange and her husband Lesley were planning on emigrating to South Africa where many other Zimbabweans have set up base in search of better opportunities.
Their families contributed monies for them to start new lives abroad but in typical youthfulness the couple took a gamble.
That money would then be converted to pursue a lifelong dream. They bought their first stove and began the journey which gave birth to Glytime Foods.
Fast forward to 2022 Glytime is now being touted as a success story of youth led businesses.
On Friday, Talent headlined a panel at the launch of the African Development Bank funded mentorship programme for youth led businesses and SMEs.
The programme, which is being implemented by the African Guarantee Fund together with the Zimbabwe Agricultural Development Trust, is training youths to help them access finance and markets.
Access to financing for businesses in Zimbabwe remains a challenge and an even bigger one for startups which typically have no fixed property to put up as collateral.
“We have seen that in most cases youths have brilliant ideas but they fail to translate them into
bankable proposals,” Nicole Muia, the Regional head of the African Guarantee Fund said.
“Their businesses cannot access financing because of their informality and general lack of capacity to
present credit-worthy business plans and financial records and reports of their enterprises”.
On the supply side the fund is providing guarantees to lenders to cushion them against risk usually
associated with startups and small businesses.
Glytime has grown an impressive line of food products which include vegan sausages, macadamia
based cookies and granola cereal, a local favourite for the health conscious.
Talent explained that the company has ambitions to export far into the region.
“We are working on certifications to push our product into the Comesa market”, she said.
Already, Glytime Foods is now registered in the Botswana Special Economic Zone.
The firm is exporting to Zambia and finalising contacts in various other countries including Mozambique and DRC.
At the moment their only challenge is coping with the increase in demand, which has unexpectedly happened over a short period of time.
“Within two years demand for our products moved from less than five tonnes per month to 40 tonnes and more is coming due to export markets”, Talent added.
With enabling policies, the right mentoring and financial support of its highly educated and ingenious youths, Zimbabwe should be able to create many more such enterprises.
This large, dynamic youth cohort could be an asset to help address unemployment, education, and rising inequality.