Susan eyes big trade deals in natural honey and juices – Capital Radio Malawi
18 June, 2024

Susan eyes big trade deals in natural honey and juices

Susan Allie Mzunga, a 42-year-old business lady, desires to graduate from a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) category to a large investment but her business faces setbacks.

Mzunga started small, with a sausage making business, two years ago and she is now registering significant growth. Her eyes are set on the export market.

She is a member of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) based at Monkey Bay in the lakeshore district of Mangochi where most women are involved in fish business.

She decided to be different by venturing in sausage making and then shifted her focus to production of natural honey, tamarind and baobab juices under a trade name AHSULU Food Enterprise.

“I am almost new in business, but I can confidently say that it is growing compared to the time I was making sausages,” says Mzunga, a mother of one.

“You know, I decided to venture into business to support my husband in running the affairs of the family. I see potential for growth, but it is not easy to run a business in Malawi,” Mzunga explains.

She touts trade fairs as a game changer to her business, having an opportunity to participate at both local and international fairs where she has benefitted from networking and sales.

From a humble beginning in Monkey Bay, she has been to local and international trade fairs in Lilongwe, Blantyre and across the borders in Zimbabwe to showcase her products, where she has also made good sales.

One thing Mzunga does not compromise in her business is quality for her products. She also strives to maintain the taste and flavour.

“I have been to various trade fairs, brushing shoulders with successful business people and learnt a lot about entrepreneurship. I make sure my products leave a mark of excellence by not compromising on quality.

“After the recent International Trade Fair in Blantyre, days later I travelled to Zimbabwe where apart from benefiting from networking, my products especially honey and tamarind juices were sold out. I also got big orders there for my products,” she proudly explains.

While most customers complain about the poor quality of honey sold on the local market, she proudly says her product is of good quality with no sugar added as it is collected straight from the beehives.

But while boasting about making business strides, she faces challenges such as the certification process at the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), which she considers a big setback.

She also talked about a lack of support from financial institutions and established players in the private sector to support SMEs.

She complains “It is very difficult to get the MBS certificate as an SME as it requires issues like having an established business premises. So for someone who is only two years in business, this is a tall order. I wish MBS could be flexible to SMEs on the certification process.”

Mzunga currently uses mobile and online platforms to sell her products, as she does not have an established structure.

NASME National Coordinator William Mwale shares similar sentiments saying the rigorous trade registration and certification processes as well as financial constraints frustrate many women in business.

According to Mwale, women have potential to thrive in business looking at their zeal in breaking the ceiling and participate in local and international fairs.

“It is true most of our members face challenges to boost their businesses, especially women in SME category because of financial constraints. We have women who produce quality and standard products but are yet to make it big on the market,” says Mwale.

He adds “but not all is lost, their products especially those into production of natural foodstuffs such as honey, juices as well as cosmetics and textiles have a good market both locally and internationally”.

He also joined Mzunga in appealing for the corporate world and financial institutions to introduce flexible loan facilities to support SMEs in order to grow their businesses.

The challenges highlighted by Mzunga and Mwale portray the real situation on the ground as Malawi envisages to become a developed and wealth nation by the year 2063 in line with the MW 2063 agenda.

Analysts say although the journey looks rough, there is hope that the country will meet some of the goals outlined in the MW2063 vision, through effective consultations and implementation of deliberate policies.

The Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) did not respond to our questionnaire on calls by SMEs to simplify the certification process.

This story was produced with support from the Women in News Gender Balance reporting Initiative

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