Afbeelding: Entrepreneur MEDO in Tanzania

Medo's story: "SMEs face so many challenges"

The story of entrepreneur Hiza Mhilu, founder and managing director of MEDO banana wine in Tanzania.

How did you started your company?
“After working as a banker in microfinance for over 22 years I wanted to start my own business. In the beginning I was not sure what kind of business to start. Watching the market for a while, I noticed the increasing demand for banana wine. So I hired an expert, who knew how to produce good banana wine. Step by step we made progress, hiring more experts, producing more crates of banana wine.”

What are the biggest challenges you face?
“As a SME in Tanzania you face so many challenges. It is difficult to get finance, access to markets and to produce a good quality product at a low price. For instance, we had to develop a new formula for our banana wine, since the price of sugar (main ingredient of banana wine) increased tremendously. Since it takes time to develop a good formula that meets the needs of consumers, we lost quite some money and satisfied consumers along the way. But the prospective is good. We are fighting our way back. Sometimes you make an step backwards, to be able to move forwards again.”

How important is support for SMEs?
“ It is crucial to be able to expand, evolve and innovate. SME Impact Fund provided us a loan, that made it possible to buy two trucks for the distribution of our products and to replace all our wooden crates by plastic ones. Our sales markets are far away so we need good transport and plastic crates are much more sustainable and hygienic. The Fund also taught us how to manage a business by providing benchmark reports and knowledge about bookkeeping. They really listen to our problems and care about my business, unlike the traditional banks which mainly care about their money. SME Impact Fund encourages us to evolve, which is very efficient for a company to grow.”

How does the growth of your company effect the entire value chain?
“Our production increased significantly over the last five years, from 10 crates a day to 900 crates today. As a result I have 80 employees who can support their families, 200 agents who have a business selling our products and lots of farmers who now have a market for their ripe bananas. They used to throw their ripe bananas away, now they receive a good price for it. It is obvious, when my business is going well, it benefits not only me and my family, but lots of other people.”

What are your dreams for your company?
“My dream is to expand my company: build a bigger factory, buy new machines for bottling and labelling, hire more employees, produce more banana wine and create access to a larger market. I will continue growing and developing to build a successful company. I am positive, with help of the Fund, I can make my dream come true.”

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