I believe success is a journey of personal development, an adventure that brings growth and maturity to the mind, body and soul. As author Jim Rohn once said, ‘You should set a goal that is big enough, that in the process of achieving it, you become someone worth becoming’. Such is the story of Zaina Mavis Kanjadza.
“I was a super disorganized person, I thought it was being spontaneous and free, but I was just unfulfilled and unsatisfied with my life. I lacked purpose.”
Zaina Mavis was born in Lilongwe on February 15th, 1987. She grew up in Blantyre where she attended preschool and primary school. She proceeded to do her secondary school at St. Lawrence Girls Secondary School in Chikhwawa, and was among its first students. Next step was The Polytechnic, University of Malawi where she studied Accountancy. Within two years after graduation, she became a chartered accountant, and in that same period worked as an assistant accountant and also as a lecturer at one college in Blantyre. Zaina took her first real risk in 2009 when she quit her secure lecturing job; for a year-long contract in a capacity building project for local assemblies. At 22 she left her parents’ home along with its privileges, one of which was a car.
“I had read part of the book by Robert Kiyosaki, ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ and one statement caught my attention. He said ‘When you start seeking something you begin to see more and more of it or related to it’. Since I wanted a car I started looking for ways to acquire one; then I stumbled upon vehicle asset finance”
Through a certain reputable bank in Malawi, Zaina was able to purchase a Toyota Vitz with no down payment. When the earlier mentioned capacity building project ended, Zaina survived on her rainy day savings for three months. In those three months of 2010; Zaina, then a chartered accountant and expert financial advisor applied for about 20 job posts and got zero feedback. Luckily, in the third month of Zaina’s job search, one well known bank recruited her as a Finance Manager.
Within two months of working, Zaina Mavis looked successful. At 23 she was a Finance Manager and was driving a Mercedes Benz. Being a creative minded person, the accountancy role did not suit well with Zaina’s personality, as such she was always trying to find an escape for example, frequent breaks at work.
“Even after achieving all this and having perceived success in society, I still felt unfulfilled. My work environment was crushing me; it was not bringing out the best in me. So I began thinking of pursuing my childhood dream”
From early childhood, having a farm had always been Zaina’s dream. She was inspired by stories from her Geography class of how Scandinavian countries deliberately flooded lands to make them more fertile. This resulted in the production of fodder for the dairy industry. More often than not, her thoughts fluttered back to her beloved homeland, and how agriculture is supposedly Malawi’s savior.
“When I was fourteen, I drew a fruit and vegetable farm on a paper which I kept till university. I always told myself ‘One day am going to have this’. I knew agriculture could transform my country too, I just wasn’t sure how”.
In 2015, Mavis Kanjadza used her work bonus to purchase a seven-acre piece of land, a decision that would lead to the birth of Kanjadza Acres.
“Well, the bottom line is, I did not love my job. I am always reading something, and every book I studied mentioned something to do with stepping away from the comfort zone, a process that will make you very uncomfortable”.
At this point in her life, Zaina was dealing with a lot of uncertainty, fear, doubt, poor sense of personal direction and conflicts in spirit. She did not like her job but the mere thought of quitting sent shivers down her spine. In December of 2015, right before the holidays, Zaina Mavis Kanjadza quit her Finance Manager job.
In April of 2016, Kanjadza Acres was officially established and after extensive research, emphasis was made on horticulture. One of the challenges that Zaina faced in her farm venture was the inconsistent supply of water; which in turn affected the quality and succulence of her horticultural products especially cucumbers. Unattended livestock also damaged the crops at the farm until a seven-acre long fence was built to counter. Inadequate extension services were also detrimental to the farms progress as technical agricultural knowledge was of paramount importance, but was not readily available.
“I was exposed to a lot of success stories but not to the pain and challenges part. I learned that it’s important to start small, that way you can easily absorb and adjust to the shocks that you encounter due to lack of experience for example. Starting small gives you time to learn.”
“In pursuing your dream do not seek to impress others or prove a point, it only makes your journey harder.”
However, despite all the challenges, Kanjadza Acres continued to grow. Zaina has specifically stated that she had to be careful not to let anything draw her away from the vision of building and growing her farm. Zaina plans to build a systematic supply of horticultural produce in bulk across Malawi, and probably the SADC region.
“I am a visionary, I take risks, am a creative person. In my journey with the farm I have developed patience. I believe every crop is profitable, the only question is; can you grow it in the required volume?”
Mrs. Kanjadza, a mother of two, is also the founder and CEO of Own Your Lane, a personal development brand through which she coaches people in physical fitness, lifestyle transformations, business as well as personal mastery.
To aspiring entrepreneurs;
“Hang around the right crowd, people who think like you. Control your environment. Be Disciplined”
“Whatever it is, start small. The process of growth will build your patience, character and vision!”
“Self-awareness. Always check your motives, why do you act the way you do? Be honest with yourself”
“Do not compete with anyone, we are all unique in our own ways, don’t feel the need to show off. Find your lane, OWN YOUR LANE”