Interview with Lipuo Nkholi of Limomonane Products, Finalists in The FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme

Limomonane Products won a pitch challenge at the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme in Cape Town this past week. The programme is funded by African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF), NEPAD SanBio and facilitated by Fuata Africa.
This seemed to be more than a programme but a journey. FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme is created to develop leadership, technological and business skills in female-owned businesses in the SADC region to support deal-making and business acceleration in the Biosciences area.

Limomonane Products naturally preserves fruits. They have three lines of products namely: canned peaches; orange marmalade; and jam from peaches, apricot, plum, lemon-ginger and mixed fruits. These products are prepared in a way that preserves the integrity of the fruits, making for a fresher tasting product. They provide a healthy alternative, especially for people who watch their diets.

We had a chat with Lipuo Nkholi of Limomonane Products to provide us with an insight on what the competition entailed and what the journey meant to her.
First, congratulations for winning the pitch competition! What does this victory mean to you?
It feels really great to see my long hours of work, sleepless nights of research and my journey of chasing dreams being recognized and appreciated. It feels really good and makes me want to do more.

What has the journey been like throughout the competition?
The journey has really been thrilling. We went through a 3-month Acceleration Programme facilitated by one of the best facilitators Africa has called Phumlani Nkontwana of Fuata Africa. We basically learned all about entrepreneurship; the tools to use to develop a professional business plan, pitch deck, etc.

They covered all aspects of running a business with the intention of solving the global problems and actually fetching the future. This is due to the fact that some of the ideas we have are already being implemented somewhere in the world.

The sessions were interactive and we had guests with success stories from organizations like Allan Grey on their Entrepreneur support programmes on finding the right funding for your business. Silicon Cape, Minderz, Norman Brett and Associates on Talent Management in the 21st Century and Sales Rock It on Sales Marketing and PR.

Please share some of your highlights through the competition?
I was moved by how passionately and willingly all these people were willing to share their knowledge and networks with us even beyond the training. Every month there were mini competitions with eliminations until we were left as top 10 finalists of which I came top of the 4 winners.

There were amazing women in agriculture, cosmetics manufacturing, scientists and technologists and I learnt so much from them. These hard working women reinforced my belief that there’s a place for women to contribute meaningfully to economic development and create jobs.

What’s your unique selling proposition?
My selling point is really simple. I am sure you will agree with me that many products are full of chemicals, colorants and preservatives that are harmful to our health and well being. On the other hand, organic products are expensive, making it hard for ordinary people to afford them.

This is where we come in to produce chemical free products, healthy and tasty, at affordable prices. We have also reduced our sugar content to be inclusive of people who don’t consume high sugar products.

Can you share your number one tip for pitching?
Recognise the strengths of your products and/ services and emphasize them as your selling point. Be honest about where your company is financially. A lot of times we are dishonest about where we are financially with a hope that we will stand a better chance if we are already making money in our company.They actually look for potential for growth not companies that are already making money.

Competition is real! We usually turn a blind eye on our competitors and habitually think our ideas/products/services are the best in the industry. This is not entirely the case most of the time but the most important thing is to accept there’s always competition and it’s rife. The only way to deal with it is to face it and find ways to beat it.

What’s next in this journey?
The next step is the regional phase to take place in September at the SA Innovation Summit where all winners and finalists from other SADC will be pitching. The winner at this will then go to SLUSH in Finland in December.

Limomonane currently supplies three Supermarkets: Mpeoa, Save A Loti and Bochabela 3. Their products are also found at UN Cafeteria and Avani Lesotho Curio Shop. – Selibeng.com

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