Yeukai Togonera is a Nutrition Network Officers (NNO) with Milkzim. She purchases milk from Milkzim’s wholesale outlet in Harare and sells packets of Merilac fermented milk to consumers living in various high density, low income suburbs in Harare. In 2012, Milkzim adopted the inclusive business approach for the distribution and retail of their products. To date over 100 NNOs have been trained by Milkzim on how to handle and sale milk efficiently and hygienically according to food regulatory standards.
Here is Yeukai’s story: from extreme poverty to economic independence……..
Yeukai Togonera nee Zhakata was born in Guruve in the year 1984 in a village called Nyamhondoro, she was born to a family of 8 children. Her father passed on in 1991 when she was only 7 years of age leaving Yeukai’s mother as the sole breadwinner. The family’s livelihood came from growing and selling vegetables such as rape, covo and tsunga. The little income that came from horticulture helped Yeukai’s mother to send Yeukai and her siblings to school. Yeukai did her primary and secondary education at Nyamhondoro primary and secondary school, however Yeukai did not write her ‘O’ Levels.
Moving to Harare:
Yeukai then moved to Harare where she met her husband to be Norman Tagonera and they got married in 2007. At the time Norman was working as an illegal gold miner, but the money he earned from this venture was barely enough to support the family. He would earn an average of $20.00 in 3 weeks. Yeukai then sought to support her husband by undertaking her own business ventures. She started off by selling eggs through which she would make an average of 50c on a crate, on a busy day Yeukai could sell 3 crates which would translate to a net profit of $1.50 per day. So in spite of their efforts for a better life the earnings from both their ventures were not enough to sustain their stay in Harare. Their life was plagued with debt, rentals accumulated, basics like food and clothes were barely affordable. The situation became desperate after the birth of their son Redeemer in 2011.
Yeukai and Princess Zhakata:
Princess Zhakata is Yeukai’s sister. Princess had a contract with Milkzim as a NNO. She is very industrious and would sell a wide range of goods from fermented milk, to clothes, babies’ and school wear depending on the season and the demand. Soon Princess had made enough money for her to move from informal vending to running her own Bar and a Grocery Shop in Chitungwiza. In 2012 as her parting gift from informal trading, Princess introduced her sister Yeukai to selling milk. She had seen how her own life had transformed and desiring the same for her sister, Princess introduced her milk business links to Yeukai. At the time Yeukai had no refrigerator, which is a very important asset for the milk cold chain, Princess then loaned Yeukai her own fridge to start off with.
Within a month of becoming an NNO Yeukai bought her own refrigerator from profits made through milk sales. She was able to return the fridge she had borrowed to Princess.
Yeukai and Milkzim:
Yeukai has developed a good working relationship with Milkzim and often receives consignment on credit. On a good day Yeukai can sell between 15-20 tubes of fermented milk, a tube contains twenty 500ml sachets of fermented milk branded Merilac. She makes $2.00 on a tube in profit which translates to $40.00 profit on a good day and $20.00 on an average day. The milk is delivered to her home by Milkzim 3 times a week. She sells the milk daily from 1500hrs-2100hrs that means on average she earns $140.00 a week and $560.00 every month. Her husband has since stopped illegal gold mining to assist Yeukai with milk sales. As a couple they have established two permanent selling points at Glen View 3 shopping mall, a temporary selling point which they set up during the busier months. They hire temporary labour for the 3rd selling point.
As a Christian Yeukai believes this window of opportunity came as an act of God, and she is grateful to God for her sister Princess and Milkzim for the transformation she has experienced. She used to sleep on the floor with no bed, but now she has bought a bed, fridge and other household assets that make her life more comfortable. She can now afford paying her rent on time and she as cleared all her debts. When asked about her aspirations she said she is saving up money to buy a stand and build a house of her own and then she will take it from there.
This is just but one of the many testimonies that are coming from the beneficiaries of Inclusive business models.
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