Ana Belmonte is admired for her vast knowledge and an amazing passion for plants, outdoor spaces and the general environment. She says from a very young age she has always been fascinated by and wanted to understand plants, particularly indigenous trees and herbs. Her interest was particularly piqued when she came to know that plants are living organisms and that they are primary sources of oxygen that sustains humans’ life. Because of this, she felt humans have an obligation to take care of plants and their surrounds.
Experts encourage home gardening as it can have a positive impact on the overall environment. It can also help to conserve precious resources such as water and energy including reduce pollution. By planting indigenous plants people can also assist in promoting biodiversity thereby providing a thriving habitat for pollination agents such as insects, bird and animals.
And this is what influenced Belmonte to pursue gardening. She says her overwhelming desire is to see more people embrace green consciousness particularly in the context of the worsening climate change globally. More significantly, she wanted to train a new generation of gardeners and environmental activists. She believes this mobilising youth to become part of these initiatives is a worthwhile investment. Growing native plants is also vital in preserving the ecosystem and also prevent invasive species from taking over.
Fulfilling a childhood dream
Belmonte is originally from Nampula in Mozambique, but currently lives in Maputo. The only way in which the 35 years-old, married mother of two boys and a girl, can fulfil her childhood dream, was to form her own gardening outfit called Malachi Garden Services Lda. She says her future plan is to write a book on gardening, and also study and learn more about plants. She wants to become a go-to person on matters not only related to gardening but about the environment in general.
Malachi Garden Services Lda focuses on creating, rehabilitating and maintaining gardens, and decorating outdoor spaces and landscapes. She says her services have huge and direct impact on her client’s lives and they also help to raise awareness about green issues. Belmonte says forming her company took extra-ordinary commitment and drive to succeed as she did not have any resources to start it with.
Belmonte says she only employed two people at the time and owned an old grass cutting machine. “Without a lot of experience of what to expect, I simply started, full of fears and uncertainties, and got my first clients. I then decided to formalise my business. All the money that I earned, I invested in equipment and paid all my expenses, taking responsibility for the payment of salaries and taxes, so I never really made profits,” says Belmonte. Since then Malachi has grown into a thriving company that provides quality services and has also created jobs for locals.
Employing more women
Belmonte says Malachi currently employs 12 people aged between 20-47 years, even though majority of them are men. But she says this is the situation she wants to change as she wants to employ more women to be part of her team. “I have a super engaged team, most entered the company without previous experience or knowledge of gardening. But through the training that I have organised for them, I can say that they are more expert than me. We are very proactive, animated, and always attentive to trends and innovation in gardening,” Belmonte says.
Educating more young people
She says she is happy to have chosen a career gardening because she enjoys it and also passionate about it. She feels strongly about sharing her knowledge and to educate more young people about the need to promote environmental awareness. Her ultimate dream is not only to write a book to also have a channel on You Tube to talk about her experiences as a gardener and an environmentalist. Belmonte says her biggest achievement is to be able to turn her love for environment into a flourishing business venture.