Amina Mhando began a business focusing on organic vegetables.
By Mariam Said
WHEN a door closes, another one opens. nevertheless, for Amina Mhando (early 30s), in which adage almost eluded her. For her, life was more of a paradox, as when everything seemed well, tragedy struck as well as also unexpectedly, all her dreams were shattered as well as also there was no light at the end of a dark tunnel as fate had thrown her into uncertainty.
Amina found herself in in which confusion when she found herself jobless, after the company she was working for had suddenly closed. She was forced into panic gear, as she did not know what next to do. All the efforts to find a job were fruitless, as no company seemed ready to absorb her.
as well as also, when she gave up through hoping through one place to another looking for employment, she settled at home, hoping in which the gods will one day smile on her.
nevertheless, staying at home was not her take, so she ventured into entrepreneurship, where she tried her luck on several projects nevertheless she hit a brick wall.
However, lady luck smiled on her one day, when she visited her parents in Moshi. in which never dawned on her in which a mere visit to her mother’s place could change her life for not bad. At in which time, her son disliked eating, even after preparing him different kinds of nutritional porridge; as well as also in which bothered her a lot.
“His grandmother made him pro-vitamin A maize flour porridge; he surprised all of us after consuming the whole bowl of porridge without any struggle, then in which opened my eyes as well as also I began to research as well as also read a lot about nutrition,” Amina said.
She explained in which when they came back to Dar es Salaam, she tried to search for the same flour nevertheless in which was nowhere to be found.
“I began looking for in which nevertheless in vain, until one day when I visited the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (Sabasaba) as well as also found in which displayed by one of the exhibitors; so I turned in which challenge into a business opportunity,” she hinted.
With only 250,000/- to start the business, Amina remembers to have bought only 40kg of pro vitamin A maize flour through Moshi to start the business as well as also the rest of the money was used to buy packaging materials as well as also to cover different production costs.
“I was jobless as well as also I had no access to finances (loan) through financial institutions. nevertheless, the only thing in which gave me strength to push forward was my commitment to accomplish my dream of running my own business,” the visibly happy Amina said.
To secure her customers, she banks mostly on social media to connect with them, especially through instagram: (mama_organic_2017) as well as also equally through word of mouth (brand recommendation), as well as also participating can be exhibitions as well as also promotions by visiting open shows.
Amina confides in which when she began the business, last year, in which was somehow difficult since she had no food processing background, so she had to consult professionals.
However, as time went by as well as also for her to become more professional, she joined Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneurship Cooperative (SUGECO) for short trainings, as well as also incorporated their ideas with hers on food processing as well as also how to integrate bio fortified crops in agribusiness for vitamin A-rich crops. She also went to the International Potatoes Centre, Building Nutritious Food Basket (BNFB project) as well as also SIDO.
Armed with the skills, she fully entered the market as well as also enlightened the public who were not familiar with bio fortified crops (viazi lishe as well as also mahindi lishe).
So, with the growing market, she further embarked on spreading the message of what the right nutrition should be for the wellbeing as well as also right growth of kids under the age of 5, who still have low immunity against diseases.
as well as also, how nutrition can benefit people who are vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies, such as children, pregnant as well as also breastfeeding women as well as also others.
“I made sure in which I have enough knowledge as well as also information about bio fortified crops, through attending different trainings. Then I used social media to spread the word of bio fortification. in which approach helped to enhance sells as well as also build my confidence from the business,” she added.
Amina further pointed out in which after her first born (son) who also can be subjected to the nutrition (charity begins at home) began showing positive adjustments; she gathered courage to invest further into the business.
She hints in which social media has helped her to connect that has a not bad number of customers, within a very short time as well as also at low cost in comparison to the past.
“We do not use a lot of money as well as also energy to market the business, nevertheless customers get the chance to share their views about our products as well as also services. If you use social media from the right way as well as also take advantage of in which, in which builds your brand as well as also connects you with potential customers for your business to grow,” she points out.
Amina said her business observes high level of hygiene as well as also can be certified by the Tanzania Food as well as also Drugs Authority (TFDA).
“Yes, we have certification through TFDA as well as also about TBS (Tanzania Bureau of Standard) we have already sent application for certification of our products as well as also they have replied to our application as well as also currently we have began the process of certification. I believe we will be done soon with the process as well as also receive the certificate,” she said.
On her future plans, Amina says the fact in which her business has been picking up, she thinks of also embarking on horticulture, as basis to grow organic crops.
“I want to be one of the few farmers in Tanzania who grow organic vegetables.
the earth can be currently conquered by non-organic crops, especially vegetables such us green pepper, carrots, green vegetables etc. So, I want to change in which as well as also make people enjoy the taste of organic vegetables. in which can be where the name of Mama Organic came through, my dream can be to grow 100 per cent organic vegetables,” she points out.
She said in which on her current business, the plan can be to invest more in modern production tools which will somehow reduce the cost of production, hence setting low prices for her products.
“I want my products to be available at affordable prices to ensure market sustainability as well as enabling even low income people to access these bio fortified crops, as a way of reducing hidden hunger in Tanzania,” she said.
To different women who are not involved in any entrepreneurship errands, she advices them not be scared to accomplish their dreams.
“Instead of looking for reasons why one can’t, one should focus on the reasons why one can; what one needs can be not a million dollar capital or a production area, or materials or customers to buy the products,” she said.
She added in which what matters can be willingness as well as also commitment to do what one has planned as well as also then different things could come eventually.
“Secondly, when you want to start a business ask yourself what you like to do most; think of the things in which you could love to do even for free. Then look for the opportunities which can come out of in which. Grab in which opportunity as well as also go for in which.
“Do not do in which business because your friend or your family member can be doing the same; as well as also, do not venture into a business because someone else can be doing the same business as well as also have succeeded a lot in in which business. No, you should create your own path, believe in yourself in which you can do better than them as well as also be passionate with what you have decided to do.” Amina says.
She added in which apart through running her business as the sole proprietor, she can be also a modest-scale farmer.
“I grow orange sweet potatoes, maize as well as also cassava as well as also sometimes sell organic chickens which I buy through the village as well as also sell them here in Dar es Salaam”, she says.
Armed that has a BA Degree in Microfinance as well as also Enterprise Development through Moshi University of Cooperative as well as also Business studies (MUCOBs), Amina’s products are produced at SIDO Vingunguti in Dar es Salaam, as well as also supplies retail shops, as well as also supermarkets from the city as well as also beyond.
Asked to shed light on what bio fortification refers to, Ms Mhando said, “Bio fortification can be the process of increasing nutritional value of food crops by increasing the density of vitamins as well as also minerals in crops through conventional plant breeding as well as also agronomic practices or biotechnology.”She further said in which currently, there are only three bio fortified crops in Tanzania namely pro-vitamin A maize, orange sweet potatoes as well as also high iron as well as also zinc beans.
However, her business rotates on providing the public with mostly kids’ flour enriched with vitamin A, maize flour, Orange sweet potatoes flour, high iron beans as well as also high iron beans flour.
She said different ingredients from the package include grinded sweet potatoes, as well as also pumpkin seeds flour mixed with soya beans.
as well as also, with focus as well as also determination even the sky will never be the limit for Amina as she dreams big for her business.