Tanzania: How a young Tanzanian entrepreneur brings spices to global markets

Dar es Salaam – Growing up, Fatma Mbaga, 25, dreamed of becoming an airplane pilot. However, this did not become the case in the field for a variety of reasons – and, instead, she decided to go into the spice business.

Ms Mbaga takes this opportunity to share with our esteemed readers – including in particular our young people – delicious pieces of this eventful journey at the start of her life, including the so far untapped opportunities that lie in the sub-sector. spices.

According to her, spices are still an undiscovered gold mine that people have yet to fully exploit. Global demand for spices has never really declined since the days of European explorers Vaso da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Christopher Columbus and others.

As a result, there is a great deal of wealth to be derived from the spice trade, both nationally and globally.

The biggest challenge in the business for Tanzanians is that spices are not seen as other agricultural cash crops like cashews, coffee, cotton, sisal and tobacco. In addition, there has not been much added value to spices to capture export markets.

Spices are a food and are also used in making perfumes, as well as a remedy for various ailments which include – but are not limited to – hypertension, hypotension, toothaches, and diabetes.

“Sometimes you can fail to make your dream come true for various unavoidable reasons. I wanted to be a pilot, but I was embarrassed by the high costs involved. However, I didn’t give up on life and looked for something else, m ‘settling for a career in business – and, so far, I haven’t regretted it, ”Ms. Mbaga said.

After various training courses, his institution – named ‘Get Aroma Spices Company’ – produces and sells various spices which are added value to increase their value and the longevity of the shell.

The products are also reasonably priced, so virtually any Tanzanian can afford them.

“There are many opportunities in this area because the use of ingredients for various domestic products is increasing daily, with the presence of a large number of manufacturers, but what sets us apart from others is the way we obtain our products, ”she says. “After failing to study as a pilot, I turned to Mzumbe University for a bachelor’s degree in business administration and entrepreneurship development – and from which I graduated in 2019.

But, when I was in my second year of bachelor’s degree, I took time to sell second-hand clothes. This generated for me the capital with which I started trading grains, ”she said.

Speaking to the SME Digest, Ms Mbaga pontificated that, “In business there are rises and falls. Unfortunately, the grain trade did not bear fruit after I was scammed out of business. a total of 910,000 Sh by another businessman – thus ruining the business. “

Subsequently, it did not have much to do for lack of capital. But, that was until “a friend of mine who gave me the spices I used in college for tea advised me to start a spice business. For that she lent me. 100 sachets of spices to start with. This is how and when my adventure in the spice business began in earnest, ”she recalls.

“Indeed, I just as quickly partnered up with the Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneur Cooperative (Sugeco) for incubation and a place to produce my wares,” she says.

“The uniqueness of my products is that they are produced by farmers who use organic fertilizers. The fragrant smell of my products is natural – and they carry the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) quality logo. ), meaning that they are produced in a clean and safe way for consumers. “

Huge potential

More than 100 farmers in the administrative regions of Morogoro, Singida, Songea, Mbeya and Iringa currently benefit from Ms Mbaga’s company, as she purchases an assortment of raw spices from them for processing, packaging and sale to end consumers.

The ‘Get Aroma’ factory – which is currently located in Morogoro as part of the Sugeco incubation – has the installed capacity to produce over a ton of spices per month.

“We have two main types of customers: those who want raw spices and those who want processed spices,” she says, noting that they sell up to ten tonnes of raw spices per month.

Currently, their products have ready markets in Morogoro, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Lindi regions, and the plan is to expand further to new markets in the days and months to come under the “Get Aroma Spices” brand. “.

Commenting on the medicinal side of spices, Ms Mbaga told PME Digest that “a good example was last year when the Covid-19 viral pandemic ravaged the world, and some experts have advised people to use ingredients such as ginger, garlic and many others in daily meals as a precaution against infection. “

She added: “Many medicines and cosmetics are made from spices such as ginger, cinnamon, lemongrass and garlic – and their market is huge internationally.

“Unfortunately, spices are not a priority because our farmers do not yet know the potential available in their national and export markets.

“Having seen the huge potential in these areas, I will help connect farmers and customers so that – once farmers see how huge the demand is – they will more than likely start to focus. seriously on increasing production, thus ultimately increasing their unfinished income, ”she said.

From Sh70,000 to Sh7 million

“I started with an initial capital of only Sh 70,000. But, largely through hard work and concentration, that amount has grown to Sh 7 million today. Indeed, my goal did not yet been reached. But at least I can see a bright light at the end of the tunnel, “she said, adding that” I already employ six people directly and indirectly “.

As an heir, Sugeco has made a significant contribution to Ms. Mbaga’s success – by providing her with a place where she can produce her products; networking and connections; business capacity building, and general knowledge enhancement.

But, this will be the last year that his company will work in incubation.

“In 2018, I received the“ Prize for the best female entrepreneur in Africa ”. Women entrepreneurs in agriculture were a very good thing for me. But, thanks to my business, too, I can manage my line without depending on my parents. I have had the opportunity to participate in over 50 exhibitions – one thing that has increased my exposure “she practically gloats, enjoying her success so far.

“Over the next three years, I will be one of the biggest companies in Tanzania to increase the value of spices in the country; a business that would create more than 50 direct and indirect jobs for young people, and with many farmers benefiting from us, ”Ms. Mbaga said.

The company will also export more of its products. This should help encourage farmers to cultivate more productively, adhering to all good agricultural practices and farming guidelines.

Every successful business would generally have suffered challenges, Ms. Mbaga pontificates, citing her challenges as including insufficient capital; product packaging, and a multiplicity of taxes.

“Success doesn’t just take a day; it takes commitment and – like a child’s development – you have to go through different difficult stages, starting small, and the rest will follow.

“Otherwise, unresolved challenges in starting a business contribute to many young people failing to move forward,” Ms. FatmaMbaga said – thoughtfully adding that “all the same, the relevant authorities should look into everything. that “.

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