ROMA – Her firm’s name is Limomonane Products.
The word limomonane says it all.
Her products are delicious (ke limomonane), plus she just scooped a big prize – M159 000 – at the Bacha Entrepreneurship Competition.
“The winning part was a big deal,” says Lipuo Nkholi, the National University of Lesotho (NUL) trained innovative businesswoman.
“It will boost our ability to get things done.”
So what’s in her recipe?
“We use all kinds of seasonal fruits to produce a homemade jam,” she says.
It all began from her passion for cooking.
“Apparently, I am a kitchen girl. I love cooking.”
At some point, she realised something peculiar.
“You know, in Lesotho, we have long known how to preserve foods,” she says.
“We preserve fruits by canning them and by drying them.”
She is right because food preservation, especially fruits preservation and particularly preservation of peaches, dates far back in time.
“But we haven’t yet learned how to commercialise food preservation,” she says.
Again, she is right.
In fact we are still learning the art of commercialising anything.
“Imagine how nice it has always been to go visit your grandma and come back with a pack of canned fruits, it is just a wonderful thing.”
So, as they say, a problem is in fact, a form of opportunity.
She immediately saw an opening there— in that problem.
Instead of complaining about what is not being done, she saw an opportunity concerning what could be done.
What if, she inquired, we start making jams and canning them for commercial rather than subsistence purposes as it has been the norm in Lesotho?
Another idea crossed her mind that assured her she was in the right frame of thought.
“I surveyed canned fruits in the market and concluded that they were laden with chemicals,” she says.
What if she provided a more organic alternative, a homemade alternative?
She says modern food products are awash with chemicals and they have too much sugar and fat.
For people who are sick such as those who are diabetic, choosing what to eat is a problem.
“Many parents also worried about giving junk to their children.”
So she wanted to bring up something that would hit two birds with a single stone—tasty and healthy.
By now, she had strengthened her case and conviction.
After all, it’s always somehow hard to find these two, the healthy and the tasty, in a single package.
Now it was time for action, that thing which separates innovators from the rest.
So she went into the kitchen and she started experimenting.
And she started sharing her recipes with her family and friends.
They liked what they tasted.
She widened the net and the more she did, the more she got positive feedback, and the more she kept trying.
When she was convinced, she went into business.
Have you noticed?
That is the route more and more of Lesotho’s young minds are taking.
They start small.
They talk and walk with their customers.
They improve and they keep moving.
“Once I started selling, I knew I had made the right choice,” Nkholi says.
“In fact, sometimes the demand for my homemade jam is so high that we struggle to meet it.”
“Look at it this way,” Nkholi says as she borders the zone of the philosophical, “It is time we muster the courage to sell what we have to other people just as they have mustered the courage to sell what they have to us.”
“Think of passion fruit, how many of us drink passion fruit juice? Yet we don’t grow passion fruit here, we don’t even know where it comes from. But someone somewhere tested his luck and here we are.”
Why is she saying this?
“I’ve been rather baffled by the fact that while we take peaches for granted here, many people from other countries don’t even know there are fruits called peaches.”
“I have a friend from Korea who is now taking my products to find how they will be received in Korea. She has never tasted organic peaches before— that means a huge market for us over there.”
At some point, Nkholi learned about the Bacha Entrepreneurship Competition by the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) and Standard Lesotho Bank and she tried her luck.
And she won!
Why did she win?
“It could be in how I put my proposal. It could be the potential the judges saw in my idea. And it could as well be that “moketa ho tsosoa o itekang,” she says.
The Sesotho idiom says hers was not just an idea, “I was already doing something”.
“It could be all of the above.”
Whatever it was, she now has the funds to buy equipment and to get into serious business.
Isn’t that really, really good? – The Post