By Wellington Zimbowa
FOR many a troubled childhood can spell a bleak future, especially for the girl child, but 22 – year old Valentine Shoti’s story sounds a reading from a fictitious movie script.
Orphaned at the age of 12, whilst at school and left to care for her two sibling sisters, who are still at primary school, and a diabetic and blind grandmother could have broken her spirit.
They also had no roof of their own, sometimes being evicted from their lodgings due to overdue rental arrears. Other basic requirements such as food, school fees were also scarce.
But she has soldiered on and today her fortune star on the national scene keeps shining, both as a promising innovator and social entrepreneur.
The Chitungwiza based lady invented an organic rich peanut butter with complimentary health benefit for chronic conditions, such as, diabetes, asthma, among other allergies.
“I had a very tough childhood, having lost my parents at a very tender age. It was very hard to find food for me and my two sisters, and grandmother.
“I thank God for standing with me, the well wishers who from time to time supported us in their small way.
“Before my Gogo (grandmother) became fully blind, we would go to dumpsites to scavenge small items, such as, plastic bottles etcetera, for resale.
“I really owe it to my Gogo for the moral guidance amid being the emotional fall – back, even now, when she is no longer able – sighted,” says the Christianity rooted Shoti.
She narrates that her passion for food science subjects, while still a student at Zengeza 1 High School changed the course of her destiny to levels she is yet see.
Her Food Science teacher asked the class to present special projects, as part of their practical learning requirements.
The innovative gene in the young teenager, whose ethos were deeply rooted in her granny’s mentoring settled on organic peanut butter. At home, they had been busy growing herbals and she thought she could make good use of them in a unique way, since they also had a simple peanut butter making machine as well.
Although she was to attract the jibe of fellow schoolmates, who gave her names such as, ‘Godobori’ (Traditional Healer), her idea won the day and she represented the school at the Ministry of Education’s scientific exhibitions dubbed SETT, in 2017.
“I won at district, provincial and national level under the Ministry of Education. With the school’s support, I also exhibited at the Zimbabwe International Young Scientists Exhibition Fair,” she added.
Although production scale is very low and usually by orders, mainly due to resource challenges, her business acumen is solid – owing to the leadership classes she underwent.
Under the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT), she has gone through cut-edge leadership, business management and marketing, on the merits of her innovative project.
Although she has not impacted much on the economic scene, the former Chitungwiza Junior Town Council public relations officer has made a mark on the humanitarian scene.
She has since embarked on a humanitarian, life skills and capacity building project for orphans starting in Chitungwiza, thanks to the support of the partnering and well – wishers.
By Wellington Zimbowa