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African Agribusiness Entrepreneur of the Year Award – Monica Musonda



the African agribusiness Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes entrepreneurs who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in agricultural input and value-added industries in Africa established in 2008 through a generous gift by dr. Aiken at escena the award highlights the invaluable role small and medium-sized entrepreneurs play in Africa's development the 2017 award recognizes the achievements of Monica Mass under a Zambian entrepreneur owner and founder of the company Java foods Monica was honored at the 2017 making markets matter closing banquet in Cape Town South Africa she joins eight other pioneering entrepreneurs who have received the prize since 2008 we sat down with Monica to talk about the past present and future of Java Foods and her decision to move into food manufacturing my name is Monica Wanda I'm the founder and CEO of a food processing business case in Lockridge a beer called Java food so Java foods was started in 2012 and we started off looking at convenient food so we manufacture eating super cereal and fill it in both retail which is to your supermarket so people can buy it on an everyday basis as well as into school we still a 500 gram bag as well as a small single service – a of 50 grams to make it affordable for everybody so we owned a brand-name easy we started off with a product called easy instant noodles in 2012 and I just kept it on our product but also it signifies the ease in which you can make easy super cereal it is an instant or approach so you just add water or hot milk and you basically stir to your desired consistency and hence the name super cereal because it's fortified and it's also made from a soil from soya and Maine which means it has a lot more protein in it as well so I started his business in 2012 with very little skill and perhaps a lot of money and I realized very quickly the problems associated to growing a manufacturing business in a country which has no huge depth of skill first of all we couldn't find a food technologist so what was one of our biggest issue how do we create goods space food without the required skill the second biggest one was around finance a finance in Zambia now you're borrowing 35 to 40 percent it's completely impossible for you to get bank financing particularly if your assets or your security are owned by family members or other people so it actually doesn't help women who want to start some manufacturing business if they cannot borrow affordably as well and also I think because we're so few of us in the manufacturing space in food as well I think people are not used to dealing with women and therefore we're not sometimes denied market they don't think our product perhaps is good enough we're not invited to certain meetings as well so the problem is because we're still fused we're not taken as a serious board and community sometimes left behind I think two things will help get more women involved in manufacturing and particularly round food is one policy government policy encouraging more women participation but it's particular areas for instance around tomatoes which women grow very well how can we process Tomatoes you know how can the woman's farmers become a purchaser by encouraging them with giving them skills giving them access to finance soft loans as well and just definitely the mentorship which is which is the biggest issue in Zambia at the moment I'm really excited about Java foods we've been around almost five years now which means it was the threshold for failure so where I see the company going is many new products we're lucky to be in Zambia where we grow a lot of food and we're now looking at how we can process some of the food which is being grown and create new products and we hope to add on many more in the next coming years

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