Name: Clement Kenneth Taonani
Organization: Nthawi Farms
Role: CEO/ Owner
“From a homeless young man to owning 175 acres in just three years and also employing 35 people around the villages in my farm.”
After I lost my mother it seemed like the hurdles just would not stop. She had battled and lost to cancer and had left five children ( I am the third born) to figure out how to survive a life she had desperately shielded us from. I was not born with the best of opportunities in life, but I cannot say that I suffered through it.
While I was raised in the rural area, we were not poor. We were actually considered a pretty well to do family in our village. As the second born son, I was really under no pressure to over achieve nor was I dreaming of it.
However, her death seemed to open a door to hades, calling misfortune upon me and my siblings, one after the next with no apparent respite. An A+ student who had no support to go to university, I had to settle for what I could. As the say, where there’s a will there’s a way, I eventually settled for nursing school where I was selected (after a grueling entrance exam) Under the Bill and Hilary Clinton Initiative in Malawi.
Seeing that I could not force or cheat my way through life I sacrificed it all, I bought a phone in college using the upkeep allowance I would receive instead of a laptop like everyone else was doing. I eventually graduated with a diploma but as luck would have it, I could not find employment for almost one year, which unfortunately in our Malawi and Africa generally is very common thing.
I discovered the educational videos on YouTube and for another 6 months I schooled myself in organic farming. My inner debate led me to sale my phone to invest into farming. I used the money to start my farm and support myself during the journey to farming. While the season of sowing to harvest saw me homeless and hungry, I chose to hope on what I woke up to see growing daily.
I can without a doubt say, my perseverance, hard work and need to succeed saw me make a first harvest that was both transformational and life changing. As you read this, I am now an employer, youth empowerment activist and climate change champion and economic enigma who did not grow their wealth with a load but the sheer drive to win. I have currently trained 2000+ households on organic farming and thousands more via YouTube and other social media platforms and all I can say is, while pain has a way of breaking you, it can never define you.