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Mandela Washington Fellowship: A Master Key for Nobukhosi Ndlovu

Nobukhosi Ndlovu
Nobukhosi Ndlovu

She grew up watching her mother grind peanuts with a small machine to make peanut butter for her household.

Now Nobukhosi Ndlovu has transformed that casual chore into a business that supplies wholesales and supermarkets across the country.

For her, certainly man can not live on bread alone; he needs beanut butter too.

The 30-year-old is among 60 Zimbabwean youths taking part in this year’s edition of the Mandela Washington Fellowship in the U.S.

And she sees this platform as a likely vehicle to take her company - Caudliss Trading, trading as Nutrie Foods - to a whole new level.

“I’m hoping that, that knowledge will assist me with new business strategies,” says Ndlovu. “It will also empower me to be able to mentor young girls out there who intend to start their own business.”

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“I will learn a lot in terms of corporate governance and running my company, and I’ll be exposed to people who have achieved better things in life.”

Ndlovu’s career was heavily influenced by her parents, who were themselves entrepreneurs; they ran a grocery store and a trucking business.

But the road to Nutrie Foods was no mean feat.

Securing seed money was a struggle for Ndlovu as she did not have collateral. Her small car was not enough to guarantee the loan she needed.

But she kept knocking on doors until one lender finally opened up.

“I told them ‘you can use the machine as collateral, if I didn’t pay you can take back the equipment,’” Ndlovu tells VOA Studio 7.

The strategy worked. And in July, 2013, Nutrie Foods was born. It took off well and registered remarkable growth, but its momentum has stagnated, thanks to the prevailing economic turbulence.

Production has dwindled from at least two tons of peanut butter a day to barely one. Business is virtually at a standstill. And Ndlovu is convinced the Mandela Washington Fellowship can provide her the master key.

“I am hoping to learn new strategies from other fellows; how they do their businesses and what they have done to be successful,” Ndlovu says.

She will spend six weeks at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, studying business and entrepreneurship.