For Magdalena Haule Njaidi, success is defined not only by how many products are sold out of her warehouse in Pwani, Tanzania, but also by the number of women she mentors and empowers. These two aspects make up the core of the ExhangeAlumni’s business, “Mama wa Shamba,” which she founded after completing a program through the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE).
Magdalena grew up with an interest in entrepreneurship. But it wasn’t until completing the AWE program in 2019 that she harnessed her interest into a business dedicated to sustainable food production and consumption. After receiving a $10,000 grant from the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), Magdalena was able to pursue this interest and founded Mama wa Shamba with the goal of producing high-quality, ethically-sourced maize flour and cassava noodles for the Pwani region of Tanzania.
The enterprise, which started with the production of pounded fresh cassava leaves locally known as “Kisamvu,” has grown exponentially. It now produces four additional products – including nutritious flour, maize flour, pumpkin seeds, and cassava chinchin. Prior to the start of her AWE program, Magdalena only had four reliable customers and sold products from her home. Since participating in the 2019 AWE program, Magdalena was able to improve her time management, record keeping, marketing, product packaging, and public speaking skills.
Her products are now packaged with quality materials to attract and increase the number of her customers and her regular customer base has more than doubled! Through her USDAF grant, Magdalena has been able to purchase processing machines and build a small factory to keep up with demand.
One of the most invaluable parts of Magdalena’s exchange was getting to join a network of like-minded, entrepreneurial women who shared similar professional interests. She learned a lot from the other participants, including around effective branding and how to create a product with a distinct logo that will resonate with her consumer base.
Magdalena’s impact through Mama wa Shamba goes beyond providing access to sustainably processed grains. She also works to engage and mentor young women in her village around starting and growing small businesses to increase their own income. To date, she has trained 15 women; five of them are purchasing Mama wa Shamba products on credit at wholesale prices to sell for profit. She also conducts training on food safety and hygiene to support women in her community to help alleviate poverty.