On The Spotlight With vaMudhumeniProject Funding and OrganizationvaMudhumeni

PLEDGE AFRICA, A FUNDING PLATFORM FOR YOUR NEXT PROJECT.

By Lynette Simango

ON THE SPOT LIGHT WITH VAMUDHUMENI

When some people see problems they will usually complain and leave it at that, while at the same time there are others who will  see this as an opportunity and they will work towards finding a remedy. This is the story of Mr. Stephen Mandala, a story we are yet to unfold. As part of seeking to understand the state of project financing in the Agriculture sector in Zimbabwe and maybe Africa in general. vaMudhumeni, through its content producer Lynette Simango caught up with Mr. Mandala who is held  in high regard by those who are familiar with his work in project financing. Mr. Stephen Mandala is the founder and CEO of PledgeAfrica, an accountant by profession. He owns a restaurant in Mutare and he is into broiler chicken farming. Above all he is a husband and a proud father to one son. He is also a devoted Christian and a leader at his church.

Project financing has always been a major setback for many budding entrepreneurs. This is true even in cases where the project manages to take off, a lack of working capital always leads to the demise of a lot of projects.

vaMudhumeni decided to interview Mr. Mandala, after receiving so many questions on project financing. At vaMudhumeni our primary vision is to #helpfarmersgrow, as such, besides the expertise we offer on agriculture, we also need to provide links on where farmers can get capital to kick start their projects and to keep them running. This was why we eager to have sit down with Mr. Mandala from PledgeAfrica so he can share how his organization is there to help farmers with project financing. Below is the full interview.

 vaMudhumeni: Hello Stephen Mandala. We are very pleased to be talking to you today. We hope this interview will shed more light on project financing, one of our clients’ greatest concern. As an icebreaker, may you tell us more about Pledge aAfrica.

SM: Thank you! So PledgeAfrica is a funding platform for all African projects that seek assistance. We seek to utilize advantage of our African population to pull resources together and reduce imports into Africa. Our mission is to bring projects and funders in one platform and expose all creative and bankable projects to the 1.3 billion African Population.

vaMudhumeni: Great initiative sir. Tell us how does it works exactly?

SM: It’s very simple. Every project will be required to submit business proposals with all projected expectation supported by authenticated documentation from reliable authorities or financial firms. As Pledge Africa we will then access the proposal before posting on platform through engagement of relevant professionals and authorities in the relevant field. The proposal must set its project funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge or donate money to make it happen.

 vaMudhumeni: Impressive! They say there is power in numbers. I can foresee many projects taking off because of this crowd funding initiative. Tell us something, what inspired you to take lead in tackling this funding monster?  

SM:  I want to start with issue of Chicken farming. I run a restaurant that mainly serves chicken meals. And it became so difficult to get a reasonable price for the birds so I decided to start my own chicken rearing to establish the costs per bird. I then started looking at all other products in the Agribusiness sector and realised that we have a huge potential. People are lacking resources mainly financial. But they also do not have the money not just for business but to hire the right workforce. So with PledgeAfrica we can bring all these people in one platform. That is finance (pledgers), the project owner and the expertise. This will help in improving production hence food security and deal also with the poverty eradication.

vaMudhumeni: The issue of collateral has always been problematic especially to those who want to borrow money from financial institutions like banks etc. How do you deal with that as PledgeAfrica?

SM: The project has to go through a number of checks and balances before it can be posted for viewing. Collateral will then be the merits on the valuations done. We also want to bring in the issue of insurance. I am still doing the research on how best we can do it.

vaMudhumeni: To make this more clearer, does this mean that the investor and the project owner will later on discuss on the interest rate and other charges that comes therein alone (assuming the deal is sealed) or this is totally on you?

SM: The project owner remains in control of the day to day operations of the product. When presenting the project, the issue of interest of investment and rollover plans must be clearly stated and investors can then engage and discuss the final interests.

vaMudhumeni: How long have you been doing this and what has been your greatest challenge? How is the feedback so far?

SM: I started this in June this year and I shared the idea on social media. We managed to draw interest from all over the world. We managed to create full 3 groups on app until I stopped because of some unscrupulous individuals. We have been offered a 400ha farm to start operation, we had a meeting with Mutasa development leaders to start broilers in that district.

Imagine if 5000 household can do 100 birds every month. That will give is 500 000 birds without construction of large fowl runs etc.

vaMudhumeni: Enlighten me on Chicken farming. Are you saying you will invest in communities say 100 birds/ ha so that your supply remains uninterrupted or you are saying they should approach PledgeAfrica to get donations/pledges for start-up capital.

 SM: Already communities are doing broilers maybe 25 or 50 but can’t reach 100+ because of market and running costs etc. So if we create a market for these broiler, develop a brand name and good packaging etc and run shops in the major cities where these farmers can constantly supply their chickens.

vaMudhumeni: Looks like the project is gaining momentum already.

SM: Yes and if we can control our expenses we can easily inject over USD200 000 back in the community. We are here to serve the community. Sadly not everyone is genuine when it comes to this. Do you know here in Manicaland people are selling cattle to butcheries for maybe 50-100USD because of a disease which can be treated with USD20. Some big companies are taking these cattle feed them for 90days (pen fattening) and sell for over 500USD. My focus is one taking over Cold storage then incorporate all these projects-chickens, cattle, goats, sheep etc…stage by stage

 vaMudhumeni: Community engagement , Impressive idea. Would you please break it down for us?

SM: So here I’m saying if 3million Zimbabweans can be convinced to contribute USD170 per month for 6months we can have an investment fund worth 3billion

vaMudhumeni: While it’s a mammoth task ahead, you have more than convinced us that it can be attained if only people are willing to commit. Something our clients would like to know is what is in it for you as PledgeAfrica after helping them get funding?

 SM: If a project is successfuly funded, we apply a 2% fee to funds collected.

vaMudhumeni: Community engagement, impressive! All it takes is one good man to change the world and  we  commend you for that.

SM: Already communities are doing broilers maybe 25 or 50 but can’t reach 100+ because of market and running costs etc. So if we create a market for these broiler, develop a brand name and good packaging etc and run shops in the major cities where these farmers can constantly supply their chickens.

vaMudhumeni: Looks like the project is gaining momentum already.

SM: Yes and if we can control our expenses we can easily inject over USD200 000 back in the community. We are here to serve the community. Sadly not everyone is genuine when it comes to this. Do you know here in Manicaland people are selling cattle to butcheries for maybe 50-100USD because of a disease which can be treated with USD20. Some big companies are taking these cattle feed them for 90days (pen fattening) and sell for over 500USD. My focus is one taking over Cold storage then incorporate all these projects-chickens, cattle, goats, sheep etc…stage by stage.

vaMudhumeni: Enlighten me on Chicken farming. Are you saying you will invest in communities say 100 birds/ ha so that your supply remains uninterrupted or you are saying they should approach PledgeAfrica to get donations/pledges for start-up capital.

 SM: Already communities are doing broilers maybe 25 or 50 but can’t reach 100+ because of market and running costs etc. So if we create a market for these broiler, develop a brand name and good packaging etc and run shops in the major cities where these farmers can constantly supply their chickens.

vaMudhumeni: Looks like the project is gaining momentum already.

SM: Yes and if we can control our expenses we can easily inject over USD200 000 back in the community. We are here to serve the community. Sadly not everyone is genuine when it comes to this. Do you know here in Manicaland people are selling cattle to butcheries for maybe 50-100USD because of a disease which can be treated with USD20. Some big companies are taking these cattle feed them for 90days (pen fattening) and sell for over 500USD. My focus is one taking over Cold storage then incorporate all these projects-chickens, cattle, goats, sheep etc…stage by stage

vaMudhumeni: Community engagement, impressive! All it takes is one good man to change the world and we commend you for that

vaMudhumeni: Where do you see yourself as a business in 10 years time.

SM: We want to be biggest funding platform in Africa. I also intend to start broiler cooperation were all these farmers can subscribe. This will give us power in terms of bargaining for feed from supplier and at long run make our own feed. We can setup in all these provinces a broiler processing plant and allow these farmers to bring their chickens for processing.

vaMudhumeni: After today’s interview, so many people would want to know more about PledgeAfrica, how will they get in touch with you?

SM: They can contact us through our emails- admin@pledgeAfrica.com/Pledgeafrica1@gmail.com or on +263772447111/ +263719447111 both Call and App. We are also on Facebook @PledgeAfrica 

vaMudhumeni encourages our readers to visit PledgeAfrica’s website –

www.pledgeafrica.com

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