Zim’s First Cigar Smokes: Mosi Oa Tunya
Mosi Oa Tunya is Zimbabwe’s first-ever cigar manufacturing company. It was launched in May 2020 by Zimbabwean entrepreneur Shep Mafundikwa.
Mosi Oa Tunya Cigars derives its name from the magnificent Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world located on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
‘Mosi Oa Tunya’ is the indigenous and African name for Victoria Falls which translates to “The Smoke That Thunders”.
There are large gaps in African and European countries that need to be filled in the marketing and production of cigars.
The founder of Mosi Oa Tunya, Shep Mafundikwa did intensive market research which inspired him to fill that elusive gap in the market and production of cigars in local and in other African and European countries.
Zimbabwe is one of the biggest tobacco exporters in the world. However, there was no value addition that was done to this tobacco since most of it was exported in its raw form.
In an interview, Mafundikwa told this publication that they saw an opportunity to come in and start up this unique project. He said:
“Why leave it to the Caribbean, South America and Latin America to make cigars , something which can be done locally here in Zimbabwe,”
After living in the United States for 15 years, Shep returned to Zimbabwe to set up the first hand-rolled cigar factory in the country. He learned about the Cigar industry in Cuba and the Dominican Republic where he got an expert with 30 years of experience Elias Lopez to head the project.
Despite facing a number of challenges in setting up the pioneering company, Mafundikwa persisted and focused on his vision until Mosi Oa Tunya became a reality.
He revealed that with the Covid-19 induced restrictions finally easing across the world, they are working on exporting Mosi Oa Tunya cigars to various international markets.
“Great interest has been generated in the region and internationally. Working with Zimtrade we are exploring different markets and we are excited at getting our products onto the international market.”
“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,”
Cigar manufacturing factory
“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’s empowerment, skills transfer, and export of 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.
For more information you can contact Mosi Oa Tunya Cigars :
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