Mosi Oa Tunya is Zimbabwean’s first-ever cigar manufacturing company launched in May 2020 by a Zimbabwean entrepreneur Shep Mafundikwa.
Mosi Oa Tunya Cigars embraces the myth and the legend of Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The name Mosi Oa Tunya is the indigenous and African name for Victoria Falls which translates to “the smoke that thunders”.
Speaking to Business Mail, Shep Mafundikwa said after intensive market research was inspired to fulfill the gap that is in the market and production of the cigar local and other African and European countries.
Zimbabwe is rated among the best tobacco exporters in the world.
“There was no value edition that was done to this tobacco since most of it was going out in its raw form. We did research and realized the demand for cigars around the world,” said Mafundikwa.
“We decided that there was an opportunity to come in and start up this unique project. Why to leave it to the Caribbean, South America, Latin America to be the ones making cigars yet it’s something that can be done here in Zimbabwe,” he said.
After living in the United States for 15 years, Shep returned to Zimbabwe to set up the first hand-rolled cigar factory in Zimbabwe. He went to learn about the Cigar industry in Cuba and the Dominican Republic where he got an expert with 30 years of experience Elias Lopez.
Despite the challenges Mafundikwa faced on setting up the Mosi Oa Tunya he keeps focused on his vision.
“Setting up a business during a worldwide disaster Covid-19 was a major challenge. Being the pioneers in this industry in this nation, we had no template to use everything that we had to do we did it from scratch and that is a huge challenge,” he said.
“Mosi Oa Tunya has one factory in Harare which employs a maximum of 13 employees at full capacity. However, due to the ongoing pandemic and health concerns, the factory is operating at half capacity.”
Mosi Oa Tunya plays an important role in women empowerment, skills transfer, and export energy. Most of the cigar rollers at Mosi Oa Tunya are women who are receiving the skills from Elias Lopez.
Mafundikwa said that Mosi Oa Tunya cigars are naturally an African project which depends on local raw materials.
“90% that comes in the cigars is local and only 10% which is the wrapper is being imported”, said Mufandikwa.
“Currently we are working with the Tobacco Research Board to produce the special tobacco that we need for the production of the cigar,” he said.
“However, the ultimate plan is to start working with local small scale farmers to grow the tobacco for us,” he added.
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