Takunda Denya: Disability Does Not Mean Inability

Takunda Denya: Disability Does Not Mean Inability

Takunda Denya, a Johannesburg resident and left leg amputee has defied the odds to start an e-commerce fresh produce business. Our Editor Martin Chemhere tells his unbelievable story.
Like thousands of his fellow countrymen he arrived in Johannesburg many years ago and found himself without a means of livelihood. Today the owner of Vitak Farm Fresh looks back to those early disheartening years with a somewhat triumphant feeling and disbelief as his fresh produce business is promising a good life.
“I think we are bringing a new concept,” he said.
“We want to revolutionise the fresh produce industry, to embrace and focus on using internet technology for the provision of fast perishing fruit and vegetable products.
“In the fast paced world we live in people are increasingly spending more on groceries because of the limited time they have to do shopping. There is also the problem of information asymmetry in terms of where to find what at affordable pricing, hence the introduction of an ecommerce store which makes it easy for us to interface between the customers and the farmers”, he says.
He believes that above everything he is trying to encourage people to live a healthy lifestyle by consuming farm fresh products.

Relating how he was inspired to start the business he said: “Technology above everything. There are quite a lot other things that I could mention. The fresh produce industry has been really moving (but) with technology it’s actually lagging behind, players in the industry have not been capitalising on the internet and technology. The other thing I could mention is the frustration of not receiving the king of service that i would expect as a consumer or customer.
“Lastly, I could mention looking at a challenge differently and offering to tackle it instead of criticising or complaining.
Despite his disability he has also been involved in acting in the past.
“I could not break into the acting industry though I featured as an extra on Leleti Khumalo’s drama Faith’s Corner directed by James Darrel Roodt. I’m really passionate about acting and cannot say I’ve stopped.My dream is to see a disabled person staring in a commercial which I’ve not seen happening so far.
“It’s funny that people would rather take a normal person and fake disability than giving the role to a disabled person. So I’m looking at putting together a documentary in this regard just trying to advocate for the disabled people and also send the message across to the industry.”

Vitak Farm Fresh began about two years ago with a lot of research that to be conducted, but only started to implement the use of the internet and the new concept this year.
How well received has Vitak Farm Fresh been so far?
He responds that the business isreceiving a lot of enquiries, thoughhe notes that there is still “quite a lot to do in terms of marketing”.
With regards to clientele the business targetseveryone from individual homes, those who sell on the street corner who are involved with selling fries as well as fast food shops and restaurants since they use these products on a daily basis. They also cover corporatesa segment he said they are introducing customised pre-packed hampers, fruit boxes mostly used in companies daily and during events and functions.
The gentleman looking Takunda explained why people should use his company’s services:

• Hustle free – people can get a wide range of fruit and vegetables delivered to their doorsteps just by the click of a button, using a personal computer or a smart phone.

• We interface between the farmers and consumers hence we will be able to supply at considerably cheaper prices while saving the customer searching time.

• We trying to promote healthy lifestyles. Vegetables have become the go to products for people who are health conscious.

Vitak Farm Fresh givesclients value and convenience by simplifying the process of ordering their fresh produce for resale and processing; saving client’s time and money: here people can order by just the click of a button (PC or smart phone from the comfort of their homes or offices and get products delivered to their doorstep hustle free); encouraging a healthy lifestyle as well as that very soon they will be partnering with at least two charity organisations which are focused on supporting under privileged kids; and also supporting cancer awareness.

Though financing the business gives challenges on a regular basis he also explains that his personal life has not been that easy.

“Losing my leg at a very young age, it was not easy at all. The transition took almost everything from me. I had to start all over again, there was a time i was suicidal, and I never thought I was going to be someone in life. I had to adjust and adapt to being an amputee”.
The emerging businessman also noted that service – value against and price and value proposition where in his opinion the most critical elements that people look for in a consumer focused business.
As a business that is still starting out how have you managed the issues of financing such a business?
He replied that funding is always a challenge to start-ups and they have also endured their fair share of up and downs in this regard.
He points out that organic foods are vital in today’s South Africa: “These foods are a key component to a diet that promotes health and well being, prevents disease and helps cure illnesses and protect the environment.”

Takunda was born and grew upin Gokwe in the Midlands of Zimbabwe. He did primary and secondary education at Davambi Primary and Chevecheve High School.
Although he “battled” to study due to various reasons he has recently enrolled with UNISA for an HC Accounting Sciences.
The fledgling business man who left Zimbabwe at the beginning of 2004 strongly feels that disabled people should be assisted in a lot of ways to enhance their lifestyle. He suggested that governments should actually do a lot through increasing disability representations in political settings as well as implementing policies that also enhances the lives of people with disability or special needs,likedisability audits,employment equity,including introducing assistive devices and reasonable accommodation and disability awareness.
Takunda received a traumatic amputation just below the knee on his left leg on 11 May 2001. He said that this shattered his dreams as the incident took almost everything away his very young age.
Just before this interview his Facebookhad posts of prosthetic limbs, of which he explained.
“I actually haven’t received the prosthetic limp yet. My prosthesis is due for replacement, the one I have is really in bad shape. So I’ve been working with a couple of people to try and raise the funds towards the replacement of my prosthetic limb, which costs around R65 000.00.

“The pictures I posted were for my last visit to my prosthetist so when we published the pictures a lot of people thought I had already received the prosthesis.”
If everything went well a fundraising event was due to be held on 25 June 2017 in order for him to receive the new prosthetic device after the event.

The proud father of three boys Takunda Jr, Ethan and Brendon, sees a great future for his company.
“We are looking at growing Vitak Farm Fresh to every province in South Africa; there after we would start exploring Southern Africa as we are targeting the SADC region within the next 10 years.”
His view is that disabled people in South Africa are well recognised as compared to other African countries in a lot of ways in terms of infrastructure and other things.
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