Zimbabwe, like any other country, is rich in history, tradition and heritage. Where Zimbabwe stands out however is in just how poorly we have capitalised on our rich past in business. Our myths alone have stories such as Nyami-nyami which can rival the richest Hollywood, Bollywood and even Nollywood stories. Something else we have that is rich is our traditional food and just like our rich stories that too is underutilised. Let’s talk about some business ideas based on Zimbabwean traditional food and why they make good sense.
Let’s start with the low hanging fruit, pardon the pun. We have a wealth of truly unique fruits in Zimbabwe that we count as being traditional food. These can easily become popular international favourites and delicacies if we simply add good packaging to them. Desirable markets such as the European Union have packaging requirements for food to be imported and this would certainly open up some of our traditional and domestic fruits to export markets.
Zimbabwe has a rich traditional fruit landscape and we can also look at ideas the further process and value add to these fruits. Processing our traditional fruits into desserts is a great business idea. Yanaya is a great working example with their mawuyu and tsvubvu smoothies. There are many desserts to which our traditional fruits can be applied to. This is an experimental area and requires someone willing to start small and test out ideas before going big with them.
If desserts work the confectionery can work. Again we have a wide variety of traditional fruits that can work well in confectionery recipes. Just like the desserts, this is an experimental area and how far you can go comes down to your willingness to experiment. Unique flavours like matamba (monkey orange) and masawu (jujubes) deserve a shot in some confectionery items.
The preserve is a wide area that covers sauces, jellies, conserves and jams. Continuing our traditional fruit focus some fruits could make great conserves and jams. My challenge is still open to anyone who comes with mazhanje (sugar fruit) or madhorofiya (prickly pear) jam, I will gladly be your first customer. Many combinations can be experimented with to come up with interesting preserves.
A good way to process fruit is to dry it and this can be applied to traditional fruits as well. Combine this with packaging them and you have an export product on your hands. I’m aware of dried and packaged matohwe (snot apples) and we can surely look at the same for many other fruits. Masawu and other fruits are already popular in their dried form so it’s not a stretch to think that you can package and sell these fruits too.
Dried vegetables are popular in Zimbabwe and with the expansion to the diaspora, they are starting to pop up internationally as well. The beauty of this is there are many methods and approaches to making these like adding chilli in the mix for example. Again packaging plays a big part in getting this right and into the right hands.
Ok enough with the fruits and vegetables. You can also look at ready-made food delivery as a traditional food business idea. Food delivery exists on many other food items and of course traditional food too. There’s still space in the market for more options. Traditional meals resonate with the majority of Zimbabweans and if you have a great product people will gladly pay for delivery. There is a lot of value you can offer customers. Consider how far people drive for some well-cooked traditional food and you will see why it makes sense.
I suppose the crux of the business ideas is reimagining traditional favourites in a new presentation. This sort of thinking can be applied to many other traditional and local favourites to come up with new business ideas.