By Ndanatsiwa Tagwireyi
ONE of the 17 global goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is access to clean water and sanitation. In Zimbabwe, most town and city fathers struggle to secure adequate chemicals required to purify the precious liquid and, in some cases, residents end up getting water with a brownish colour from their tapes. Zvishavane is one town that has not been spared from the problem.
A town that never falls short of innovative minds saw duo coming together to arrest the situation through setting up a water purification start-up Balfron Investments Private Limited which primarily focuses on purification of water under the brand ‘Mineral Agua.’
For Manuel Makuyana (33) and Balfron Investments Private Limited co-owner Tatenda Msassa (28), providing affordable clean water to the Zvishavane community and beyond is a plus in meeting one of the 2030 sustainable development goals whilst providing a solution for locals who may need purified water.
“We were inspired by the general public health concern and I think you are aware that our councils have been providing unclear water especially during rain seasons citing that it is clean and safe to drink,” Makuyana told the Entrepreneurial Magazine. “We were concerned about our health to a point where we had to set up a plant where we can purify water and provide it to the public at cheap and affordable prices.”
According to Makuyana, realising that there were very few players in the water purification business in Zvishavane and the desire for financial freedom also prompted them to start this noble cause. Staying in the small mining town of Zvishavane and witnessing gaps that had to be filled up prompted them (Makuyana and Msasa) to embark on this innovative entrepreneurial venture.
Located at the Roman Catholic Church opposite Zvishavane’s Machipisa Complex, Balfron Investments Private Limited is a product of the Covid 19 pandemic as it started its operations at a time when the nation was in the middle of battling the ravaging effects of the virus.
“We started purifying water, doing customised branding and supplying events on 1 December 2020 but we started at a very slow pace as we just wanted to test the market,” Makuyana exclusively revealed. “Fortunately, the demand for our ‘Mineral Agua’ water turned out to be huge and we had to gear up our operations at our plant to meet people’s demands.”
According to Makuyana, it was easy for them to penetrate the market with their new product owing to Balfron Investments sound marketing strategies that made their work popular.
“We introduced our product using the penetration pricing scheme meaning we had to introduce our product at a very low cost compared to other products already on the market,” Makuyana told the Entrepreneurial Magazine. “We sold 500mls bottles of ‘Mineral Agua’ water at US$1 for 6 and we introduced a package whereby we were selling our 5 litre refill water at US$1 whilst a 20 litre bucket of water was going for $3 and this is something that was never seen in the market.”
Makuyana also paid tribute to modern day information communication technologies that helped to market their work within a very short period of time.
“The main tool that took us to where we are today is WhatsApp media platform as we joined many groups and spread the news that we had to friends, colleagues and church mates. These people also played a part as they resent the fliers to other people and the messages were quick to spread all over Zvishavane and beyond,” Makuyana said adding that many customers started to inquire about them.
“We are using different types of other social networks like Facebook, where we market our products and people are liking our page and we are proud to say that Zvishavane market is superb and very supportive”
“So far our biggest clients are supermarkets and individuals and it seems like we are the ones who were delaying to come into the market to provide mineral water,” the positive minded Makuyana said. “Although we have not tapped much on areas outside Zvishavane we will be reaching out to those areas soon.”
Like many Small to Medium Enterprises in Zimbabwe, Makuyana agrees that their company is not operating at full capacity because of quite a number of hurdles caused by Covid 19.
“We are given time to start and close business meaning we have few hours to commit to our work and this has become a challenge because we are new to the market and serving many customers within a limited time is impossible,” Makuyana told this magazine.
“Lockdown restrictions have created problems with the transportation of our raw materials that we get from Harare and South Africa.”
Makuyana is optimistic that in the near future, Balfron investments will operate at its full capacity and spread its wings to other towns and cities whilst introducing new products that the market may need.
“Our hope is to have as many branches as possible in other cities and towns in Zimbabwe because we are experiencing the same problem of having unclean water in some instances,”Makuyana said. ‘Mineral Agua’ water is already on the market and we are going to be unveiling Delrico fruit juice, Delrico syrup and mineral agua ice cubes soon.”
Makuyana urged other aspiring youthful entrepreneurs to starve their distractions and remain dedicated and committed to their goals in order to create employment like what Balfron Investments is already doing.
“The harvest is plenty but the labourers are few,” Makuyana tipped other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Balfron Investments Private Limited is a Zvishavane based start-up specialising in purifying water through reverse osmosis to separate ions, unwanted molecules and larger particles from drinking water.
“For quality purposes, our water goes through a multi medium filter, active carbon filter, sodium ion filter, precision filter, reverse osmosis, ozonation and uv steriliser before being taken to a 500-litre reserve container waiting for packaging after making sure that its ph (measure of how acidic or basic water is) is at 7,” Makuyana revealed.