The First Lady, Dr Grace Mugabe, has won the 2015 Outstanding Value Addition Investment Award in recognition of the massive work that she has done at Gushungo Dairy and her children’s home in Mazowe.
Dr Mugabe, who was the guest of honour at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony on Thursday evening, said she was humbled by the recognition and pledged to continue working hard for the development of the country.
Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha read the citation for Dr Mugabe’s award, outlining all the work that she has done from business to philanthropic work.
“She has defied the gender barriers while at the same time not riding on her closeness to the first citizen (President Mugabe) of the country,” said Minister Bimha.
“A simple tour on her projects which range from agro-processing to philanthropy could not go unnoticed. Her passion to entrepreneurship emanates from the early stages of her life. Her impeccable record in infrastructural investments is evidenced by the multimillion-dollar projects, which includes arguably the finest primary and secondary schools, a flourishing dairy project and an orphanage testifies to why she could not be overlooked when the largest business lobby group adjudicated on who could be the deserving recipient.”
Minister Bimha said infrastructural projects on her state-of-the-art children’s home and schools that catered for the needs of Zimbabweans were evidence of her passion and dedication.
“Value addition needs to be noted as she grows her crops to make stockfeeds that she feeds to the cattle that produce dairy milk and not forgetting the land where she has done her project.
“The construction of a dairy processing plant at her farm, which saw the processing of dairy products such as sour milk, yoghurt and ice cream is a clear depiction of how she has contributed to value addition,” read the citation.
In her acceptance speech, Dr Mugabe said her journey in both business and philanthropic work had not always been smooth as she also experienced some false starts.
“My projects began on a modest footing and I expanded them in phases over the years.
“I am especially grateful for the support I received from my husband and the entire family and friends who gave me advice and the encouragement to believe in the projects I set my mind on,” she said.
She said she was a hard worker despite negative stories that were being written about her by the private media.
Dr Mugabe said the dairy farm was one of the success projects that started from scratch, but was now able to produce unique products that were in high demand on the market. She said the children’s home was one project that she was passionate about as she chronicled how she set up the home and the Amai Mugabe Junior School and the secondary school that is currently under construction with support from some well-wishers who bought into her ideas.
Dr Mugabe said the schools have capacities of 1 000 pupils each and state-of-the-art hostels and dining halls.
She said women had been marginalised for too long adding that she did not compete with women, but men.
Funds permitting, she said, she intended to set up a hospital and a Robert Mugabe University in Mashonaland Central.
She hailed Zim-Asset for the emphasis it placed on value addition.
“I have nurtured this policy because I believe in its objectives and I am pleased with the results that we are realising today in the family business.
“My challenge to you is that you revisit the Zim-Asset document and examine ways in which we can stop the losses we continue to suffer as a country because we have not given value addition the seriousness it deserves.
“When I look at our mining sector, for example, I believe we still need to align mineral extraction to beneficiation to stem the loss of earnings that has partly contributed to our liquidity problems.
“I call upon you Mr (Davison) Norupiri (ZNNC president) and your members to vigorously and honestly interrogate the issue of investment and how this can be strengthened,” she said.
She pledged to continue working hard, encouraged by the award that she dedicated to her family and all those who contributed to the growth of the projects.
Dr Mugabe said an undying commitment to the development and growth of the country’s economy would certainly bring dividends in the future adding that big businesses did not always start big.
Other individual winners were Mrs Smelly Dube, who walked away with the Business Woman of the Year Award. She is the chief executive and founder of River Valley Properties based in Gweru.
In the citation, River Valley Properties with a chain of subsidiaries was said to have developed more than 10 000 properties both residential and commercial.
Univern Enterprises chief executive Mr Serge Levy won the Business Man of the Year Award.
The company has partnered the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) in its computerisation exercise.-Zimpapers