Sophia Takuva not just the beauty but brains and hard work.
When one hears the term small-scale mining the first thing that comes up is dirty and fierce men who are well known for violence. Little is known about women taking a leading role in the Zimbabwe mining industry.
Mining Zimbabwe met Sophia Takuva a small scale miner in her early thirties who is not just the beauty but brains and hard work. She specialises in gold, chrome, and gemstone mining. On chrome and gemstones, Sophia Takuva is in a partnership or a syndicate (as its popularly referred to in mining) with other women. Here is how our interview went.
Why did you venture into Mining and why specifically gold mining?
I ventured into mining because of the benefits. I take mining as a business, though I am still small I’m trying to do it sustainably and build something great out of it. I’m more into gold mining because it is easier and requires less capital than other minerals.
What have been your achievements since venturing into mining?
I have managed to live /survive in a respectful way. I work to earn a living that’s my number one achievement. I’m working on building a home, I’m taking care of my family including paying fees for less fortunate kids. I am currently building a mining equipment and motor spares business. I have and I’m still empowering women in the mining sector and mining communities through educating them on sustainable mining and sustainable livelihoods. I dedicate time to empowering women and girls to stand up for themselves and build their life through the hard work of their hands.
What has been your biggest challenge in the Zimbabwe Mining Industry?
My biggest challenge has been financing business and exploration. Mining is capital intensive and it is not easy getting a loan especially without production and exploration records.
Have you tried approaching Fidelity for the Gold Initiative Development Fund
Personally No, but I have helped other established women who had a good fidelity record to apply for GIDF but they were not successful in acquiring the loan.
How is it working with men and being the one in charge?
As a woman, I work and oversee my mining business and my experience in working with men has truly been a journey and a hard one. Men are tough human beings. Even if they are your employees they sometimes challenge you. So as a woman, I have managed to work well with men while respecting them as men, and keeping my values as a woman. At work, I deliver and take control of my ground. We set ethics and values that are followed as we work.
How is it in general for women working in the mining industry
The mining industry is now flocked with women though most women’s work in ASM is relegated at the back, women are big players in the sector. They are mine owners who employ. They supply equipment and machinery. Some are into artisanal mining and they work hard there producing gold, chrome, gemstones and they contribute immensely to the development of the country through foreign currency earnings and revenue.
Considering you come next door to a place famed for Machete gangs how is has it been for you as a woman in the mining industry?
The machete wars are a threat to every miner, men, and women. We survive machete gangs by God’s grace because no-one can predict when or where the gangs can force their way into your mine. Miners work with the police though it is taking longer to resolve the gang issues we hope for the better.
Mining is getting popular by the day and there are some women out there who may be interested but fear the negativity associated with mining. What your advice to them?
My word to women out there is “Women can do it, come let us work together and build our society and change lives. Wherever you are engaged in women miners forums, mining institutes, online, social media platforms to learn and get mining experience. For those who want peg, go to the mines office purchase a prospecting license, and get a pegger, peg your mine. For women who want to supply chemicals and equipment follow the business procedures and come to mining districts and do business”.
Some men say women should not be near mines at that time of the month. Has it ever been an issue to you, and what do you say to those with such beliefs?
On that myth, I say it is not true. Women should not listen to those because its a discriminatory door that will open other doors of theft and overpowering by males who want women to believe that how God created them is a curse on other days. Periods happen to everywoman even those who work in big mining companies and they go to work like that its a natural order of things that we need to embrace.
The world is currently battling Covid-19 Pandemic. How are you ensuring your workers are safe from the pandemic.
I ensure the safety of my workers by following recommended health regulations, washing hands, sanitizing, social distancing, and above all wearing PPE.
You are a popular miner in Zvishavane and Zimbabwe as a whole. What have you done to encourage more women to venture into mining?
I am a member of the Zvishavane Women Miners Association. We accommodate every woman who wants to learn about mining, ASM women miners, and aspiring miners as to empower them to see through us that it is also possible for them to do mining.
Mining has a stigma of violence attached to it and all sorts of negative stories. What you say to a Lindokuhle who is overseas or Paidamoyo in Harare to assure her it’s a safe industry that she can invest in.
In every business there are challenges but winners don’t walk away or hesitate. They walk through them to success. Mining is a business and it accommodates everyone. As women don’t fear the written or reported violence, come let us stand together and fight the violence against women against humanity in all sectors so we can pave a way to our future generation, and create a space for our sisters and our young girls tomorrow for successful women businesses. Venture into mining and be financially free.
Besides mining what does Sophia enjoy doing?
Sophia Takuva enjoys reading and writing, she is a blogger on extractives industries and women’s rights. “My blog is Sophytak Sophia Takuva @mining Blog”.