Bravely stepping out into the field of agribusiness, two women with no prior technical expertise are breaking into a typically male dominated Zimbabwean industry, to introduce a novel concept to the country, and to present it to the world. We located a team of engineers and boiler makers in the densely populated Mbare industry in the outskirts of Harare. Riding along the bumpy road of uncertainty, we made our way to the industry to verbally explain a vision that we were hoping would come alive.
The smell of unsettled dust, sawdust and melting metal greeted our nostrils as we made our way through the maze of makeshift industrial stalls and workplaces. There was dirt and grit mixed with the debris from litter and fruit stones of various fruits. In some places, we had to jump over a trickling puddle of grimy black grease and sewerage water, as we walked on. We were mesmerised by the variety of products being created and sold; hardware, welding discs, water tanks, scaffolding, metal scraps, wooden crafts, foam strips and mattresses, roasted and salted wholesale packs of maize and groundnuts, crafts from old tyre, rubber bands in all shapes and sizes for different uses, and food stalls selling locally made maize meal plates with a beef or a chicken stew and some green vegetables. We were overwhelmed by the barrage of different types of machinery reverberating through the plastic sheeting separating the stalls. The sound of drills, compressors and metal to metal clanking was prevalent as we arrived at the stall with our engineers.
Standing aside, we started the meeting shouting to hear one another against all the noise and commotion of our surroundings. We told them that this nut is harder than any other they had ever seen or heard of and we explained the product that we were trying to obtain. Armed with years of knowledge and experience, they visualised the concept and married it with ours. They were certain they would be able to bring forth what we required. After answering a few technical questions on the machine’s functionality, they set to work and told us they’d be ready with our machine within a week.
Amidst all the chaos in the environment they work in, they set to work and produced a machine that did indeed crack the nuts. We shall be revealing more information, along with a few challenges that should not be issues in the 21st century, in our future posts.