Growing Slowly, Growing Steadily: The Yi-Tachura Association in Mozambique
The story of the Yi-Tachura Association starts with Glória Chambude, a burst of optimism and kindness who decided, after working for 15 years on her own, to open a part of her ‘machamba’ (small garden) to fellow farmers in 2014. Since then, 12 women and 3 men have joined Glória to work on her farmland, which is 72 hectares in total.
The Yi-Tachura business model is inspiring. They joined forces and formed an association through which they pool resources and share knowledge and skills across their value chain, from the production field in Matola to sales in and around Maputo. In the long term, the Association’s goal is to cultivate the entire 72 hectares. This would bring more emerging farmers into the fold, resulting in gainful employment as well as access to training in modern farming methods and entrepreneurship. According to Gloria, by the time they are able to exploit the entire field, 50 more people will have joined them.
But the Association has faced challenges. The informal group lacked commercial exposure and had trouble thinking and acting as a business, including getting recognized by banks and development organizations. They were not growing toward their goal of 50 more farmers so they could cultivate the entire property.
In November 2015, Building Markets organized its first female entrepreneurs event in Maputo with the theme “The Reality of SMEs in Mozambique and Women’s Participation”. Glória attended this session and says that it was a tipping point for Yi-Tachura. The Association began accessing services through Building Markets, including business training and one-on-one advisory, and learned how to legally register. This has brought Yi-Tachura into the formal sector, which has allowed them to access benefits such as financial services.
Currently, Building Markets is helping Yi-Tachura obtain a loan that will allow the association to buy farm equipment, including a tractor, which will greatly improve their productivity, working conditions, and ultimately their income. With this investment, the Association will expand land under cultivation resulting in more production of vegetables, which can substitute South African imports that constitute the bulk of vegetables consumed in southern Mozambique.
Yi-Tachura’s model also includes an important social impact. The Association contributes shoes, schoolbags, and notebooks to encourage students to continue in school. According to Glória, “this is a perfect example of what we can achieve when we work hard and are willing to reach out and meet the challenges facing our members and their families.”