Two Zimbabwean women reached the finals of the top Southern Africa business and innovation competition being run under the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme aimed at empowering women through innovations in science and technology.
Jessica Dzvore, a student from Chinhoyi University of Technology won the first prize in the student category for producing a herbal ointment that can be used as a soothing rub for joint and muscle pains with little or no side effects.
She won a trophy at the FemBioBiz Grand Finale competition held recently in Cape Town, South Africa.
Theresa Nyava, a businesswoman, came third in the entrepreneurs’ category of the FemBioBiz regional competition for her innovations of low-cost and highly durable reusable sanitary pads.
She won R15 000 and qualified for the AWIEF Pitch N Grow competition.
The Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio) holds the competition to help develop leadership, technological and business skills in female-owned bio-businesses in 13 Sadc countries.
The programme aims to empower women-run enterprises in bio-sciences, targeting health and nutrition innovation.
Under the project initiative dubbed: “SANBio FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme Season 3,” more than 250 women were being supported in the four targeted areas that cover — innovative business, business growth,social enterprise and student entrepreneurship.
Dzvore is in the process of establishing Nakai Botanicals to produce alternative herbal ointments that soothe and ease joint, muscle and back pains.
Her focus is mainly on product development using indigenous plant species. The product has a market potential with the elderly and the general public who need soothing rubs for injuries and sprains.
Nakai Botanicals is still in the process of being registered as a company
Nyava runs the Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe, a social enterprise that produces low-cost and reusable sanitary pads that aim to support women and girls in rural communities to access them and enhance their menstrual hygiene.
“I developed this as a response to the high cost of disposable pads and tampons and the negative environmental impact they cause, worsened by poor sanitary waste disposal facilities in Zimbabwe,” she said.
“Our reusable pad is traded innovatively both on cash basis and through barter trade to allow women and girls in rural communities who are financially excluded to still access them.
“We also donate one pad for every purchase of 10 pads, which are then distributed to underprivileged girls and women through our charity wing called Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust.”
FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme has since 2017 supported women in the SADC region to nurture their scientific ideas into viable businesses that contribute to economic growth of their respective countries.
“To me, these awards mean everything. They are equally crucial as they can open more doors in my entrepreneurial journey.
“They have added value to my business and they are a constant reminder that I need not to relax, but to work even harder.
“They are a challenge in a way,” said Nyava.
The SANBio initiative is supported by the governments of South Africa and Finland. Hivos is also a supporting partner.
In Zimbabwe, the programme is implemented in collaboration with the National Biotechnology Authority.