#FillTheGap! Empowering female agripreneurs in Zimbabwe

This is the sixth post of Farming First’s #FillTheGap campaign to highlight the gender gap facing rural women working in agriculture.

When Ruramiso Mashumba started farming in 2012 on a farm she inherited from her parents, the land was just a bush with no equipment or the necessary infrastructure.

What’s more, Ruramiso faced a greater challenge: in her native Zimbabwe, women are more likely to work unpaid in agriculture than to be a paid full-time worker, let alone an employer or agripreneur.

Undeterred, in 2013, she started growing snap peas for export to the European Union and Africa and very quickly, she expanded her operations to grow a variety of horticulture crops, indigenous organic grains that she mills into flour, brown rice as well as commercial maize.

Her interest in farming started while she was working in the United Kingdom for one of the leading agricultural equipment companies.

It was there that she realised the potential of equipment and technology in transforming agriculture. This led her to commit to changing the image of agriculture, and she embarked on farming upon her return to Zimbabwe.

Ruramiso, who holds a BA in Agriculture Business Management from the University of West England (UWE), has never looked back since she started farming and is continuously looking for ways to improve and grow her farming business.

Ruramiso also founded Mnandi Africa, an organisation that helps rural woman to combat poverty and malnutrition by empowering and equipping them with skills and knowledge in agriculture, nutrition, markets and technology. Mnandi also assists women in accessing affordable and effective agro-technology through an input-sharing program, and collectively purchasing and selling goods and services. Its vision is to ultimately end hunger and poverty.

She was also elected the National Chairperson of The Zimbabwe Farmers Union Young Farmers’ Club in 2014.

These achievements were recognised by agricultural manufacturer AGCO, and she was invited to attend their Africa Summit in Berlin in 2015. After sharing her story, she won an award for influence and leading woman toward mechanisation in Africa.

By 2016, she was selected to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. Ruramiso was selected to be a panellist at the World Food Prize in Iowa and gave input on the importance of nutrition in Africa.

She also became a member of the Global Farmer Network and was nominated for The Zimbabwe Businesswoman award. She has also been featured in a number of publications, including The Zimbabwean Farmer magazine and also in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition publication, which is endorsed by the African Union.

To attract and keep young people in farming, Ruramiso believes that there should be efforts to highlight agriculture as a success and showcase opportunities in the value chain, as well as an opportunity to bridge the gender gap.

For more stories of bridging the gender gap, visit Farming First’s Fill The Gap page or follow #FillTheGap on social media.