Afbeelding: Owner MedFood spices- SME website

MedFood's story: “As entrepreneur you need to be persistent and creative”

The story of Tanzanian entrepreneur Mrs. Joyce Mmari, founder and director of MedFood. 

Why did you started your own company MedFood?
“Since there were so few jobs ten years ago, I decided to create something myself. The Mzumbe university in Arusha offered a short course about spices: how to use spices as medicine and how to process them. It was interesting and I learned a lot. I noticed a great demand for quality packed spices in Arusha, that’s why I decide to start my own business. Together with my housemaid I packed the spices in little plastic bags at home and sold them to small shops in Arusha.” 

How did your business grow?  
“ I knew I needed a business loan to take my business to the next level. The Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) of the Ministry of Trade offered me a first loan of 500.000Tsh. It gave me the opportunity to buy raw materials and to improve the quality of my packaging. Two years later SIDO provided me a second loan of 3 million Tsh, so I could buy a new processing machine and rent a workspace. A big step forward. I started to sell spices and healthy flour to more retailers and private schools. Not only in Arusha but also to 6 other regions in Tanzania and even to Kenya. In the last 10 years my company grew from 2 employees in 2007 to 14 in 2017 and from 3 different products to 26.”

You lead the industry of spices in Arusha. How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
“ By offering a constant high quality product. To ensure we maintain this quality we visit our suppliers (small famers) frequently. First of all to check the quality of their raw materials but also to advise them how to improve their performance and products. Another difference is that we sell pure natural spices and don’t add flavours or colours to it, like our competitors do. And we sell the biggest variety of spices, 26 different spices in total. To keep competitive we watch our competitors closely. We buy their products, taste it, smell it and constantly think of ways we can improve our products.”  

What are the main challenges for your company?
“ The most challenging for our company is to meet the customers demand due to the limited capacity of our small machines. Our machines are not sophisticated and big enough to process large quantities in once. Another challenge is to find a proper and affordable workspace. One that has adequate electric power and room for machinery, packaging and the storage of raw materials.” 

What is the impact of SIF support on your business?
“Due to limited working capital we had to purchase the raw materials frequently, which is not very cost effective. The loan of SIF provided us the chance to buy big quantities of raw materials during the harvest season, when the prices drop. So we have more stock now for a cheaper price. Another part of the loan we spent on the construction of a new workspace (factory).” 

What is your advice for other entrepreneurs who want to start a company?
“ Be persistent and creative. As an entrepreneur you need to be persistent because it can be difficult to keep things going when you are not seeing instant success. Persistence is also crucial because you are bound to make mistakes. When you give up too early, you cannot learn from your mistakes. Another important part of running your own business successfully is to be creative. Creating new ideas, finding solutions how to improve your products, differentiate for competitors and expand your markets." 

What are your dreams for your company?
“ In 10 years’ time I like to be half the size of Azam, one of the leading industrial food & beverages companies in Tanzania and East Africa. The plan is to offer a larger variety of food products. Imagine in the future people buy most of their food products from our company (MedFood). That’s would be a dream come true.” 

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