Zambian company spots opportunity for locally-made spices and pastes

Sage Valley co-founders Nancy (left) and Zita Kafwimbi

Sage Valley is a Zambian company which produces spices and pastes from locally sourced ingredients. The business was started in 2019. Co-founder Zita Kafwimbi (29) answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

Sage Valley is a brand that manufactures various pastes and spices. With the local spice market flooded by foreign products, we have taken the opportunity to fill this gap by producing international-standard locally-made products. It has given us the opportunity to support the agricultural sector by adding value and creating diversification for farmers to grow different herbs and spices apart from the normally grown crops, all while giving them a direct market to sell to and, in turn, build wealth for themselves and their families.

2. How did you finance your startup?

We financed our startup using the little savings we had and eventually got support through the Empress Fund, managed by Africa Trust Group (ATG), based in Cape Town, South Africa. Empress Fund was established by a syndicate group of high-net-worth individuals from across the African continent and diaspora, to invest in the growth of women-owned businesses in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?

It would go to the expansion of the business by adding more condiment lines and a manufacturing plant with machinery that would make our production more efficient. We would then go into exports to our neighbouring countries and beyond. We would also diversify into the value addition of other agricultural products in our country.

Sage Valley pastes

4. What risks does your business face?

The major risk our business faces is largely competition from already established foreign brands. They can negatively impact our business by offering cost reductions. Small businesses like ours have higher costs than they do.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

Social media platforms. We are in a digital era where most people have access to the internet and that has worked in our favour.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

Scooping the “best value addition winner for 2020” at the Nkoka Women in Agro Business awards. It was such a proud moment for us as a business.

7. Tell us about your biggest mistake.

Our biggest mistake was not consistently checking current market pricing before production. It affected how we priced our products but we have learnt to always be updated with current market flows to help us be competitive and still remain a sustainable business.

Further reading

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[June 2020] The Ethiopian entrepreneur who wants to disrupt the paper industry