An organic and natural foods business is actively creating jobs in the Bulawayo province of Zimbabwe. It is called Fruitiesberg and is run by the amazing Shyleen Mpofu.
Shyleen began Fruitiesberg in 2014 when she noticed a growing number of people with ailments and poor health as well as a lack of employment opportunities in Bulawayo. She wanted to provide jobs while encouraging the population to be healthier. Since most food products sold in the region are genetically modified or have been sprayed with different kinds of pesticides and fertilizers, Shyleen wanted to diversify the marketplace by offering vegan, raw, organic, and gluten-free products such as natural oils, soy products, apple cider vinegar, nuts and seeds, and much more.
Shyleen and her three employees needed our micro-grant funding for a new refrigerator and juicers. These items will allow them to make and store their own juices locally instead of importing them. There has been a demand by their clients. They are also conducting several feasibility studies on the desire and need for healthier lifestyle choices in Bulawayo. In the future, Shyleen also wants to buy equipment for testing blood pressure and sugar levels.
In her own words
The Stardust-Startup Factory: What does starting this business mean to you?
Shyleen Mpofu: There are no jobs [here]. When you graduate from college or university it’s very difficult to find a job. I wanted to create employment for those people that have qualifications but can’t seem to find anything. So I created a business to employ people.
SSF: What did you want to be when you grew up?
SM: When I was a child, I wanted to work as a bank teller and then possibly a manager at a bank. I never imagined myself having my own company [and being] my own manager. It’s a very big challenge to start a company; no one wants to take a risk by giving you money [so] getting financing is difficult. The interest rates are so high in the banks, and the requirements in most financial institutions are huge, so getting a loan is not easy. I was raised by my single mother (a nurse) who would give me some pocket money sometimes. I also used to fish in rural areas and bring them into town to sell them. I eventually saved up enough to get a shop and start this business.
SSF: Who are your biggest inspirations?
SM: I got inspiration from a successful business-person in Zimbabwe who runs an internet service provider company and from a friend of my mom’s who owns a restaurant and a car.
Shyleen attending the West Zimbabwe Business Conference, June 2017
We are grateful to Shyleen for showing us the limitless reach of plant-based living and the profound positive impacts it has on communities all around the world. Her passion and drive will help Fruitiesberg succeed and continue to inspire (and employ) people in Zimbabwe.