Inspiration to start a business comes in many forms, and for successful agri-preneur Bupe Chipili Mulapesi, founder of Farm23 Strawberry in Zambia, her inspiration came from a fellow woman farmer across the other side of the world.
LoA met with this passionate woman entrepreneur taking strawberry growing in Zambia to a whole new level.
What does your company do?
I grow strawberries and supply good quality strawberry fruit to our local market in Zambia. I supply a particular commercial variety of strawberry seedlings. We are looking to partner with other small scale farmers in particular women to supply the strawberry fruit to an international base.
“What inspired me to start strawberry farming was a woman strawberry farmer based in Australia. She encouraged me to start and I learnt the plant dynamics through her mentorship.”
What inspired you to start your company?
What inspired me to start strawberry farming was a woman strawberry farmer based in Australia. She encouraged me to start and I learnt the plant dynamics through her mentorship. What inspired me also was the hard work of some women farmers in my country and all around Africa, in particular Kenya where they have commercialized strawberry farming on a large scale.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We aim to supply a high quality strawberry fruit which is affordable and easily accessible to the market, because strawberry fruit which is imported comes at a high cost. Our goal is to satisfy both the local and international markets with the best quality of strawberry fruit in terms of taste and a long shelf life. Our products are characterized by a creative and innovative high value addition concept, for example, pure organic strawberry jam production. This is possible because of our purely organic growing technical policy.
“We aim to supply a high quality strawberry fruit which is affordable and easily accessible to the market, because strawberry fruit which is imported comes at a high cost.”
Tell us a little about your team
I have a full time team and staff of 26 workers who work on the strawberry plantation. They help with the harvesting, plant maintenance and packaging respectively.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I decided to go into full time strawberry growing as a business about 5 years ago. It's had it's own challenges both as positive and negative learning lessons, and in terms of marketing and networking to help with our expansion. But what is important is to persevere, and with hard work to stay focused on your business growing goals. I would love to expand my business. But because of lack of access to financial assistance, it’s hard to expand to other horizons because the existing finances have to refinance the business and to keep it running.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
My biggest dream is to be able to supply and satisfy both the local and international market with a constant supply of strawberry fruit of great quality and with consistency, and at a lesser cost than is available in the market. We are also keen on enhancing the fruit processing side of the business to add value to our product. We would like to start producing a pure strawberry jam that will be processed using the fruit we grow ourselves.
“Our products are characterized by a creative and innovative high value addition concept, for example, pure organic strawberry jam production.”
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
What gives me the most satisfaction is the fact that I am able to provide a good quality strawberry fruit to the market consistently at an affordable price and also provide a good service to all my clientele.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
My biggest advice to anyone starting up a business is to stay focused on your dream, your business goals and to never give up. Determination and hard work will never disappoint a successful mindset. Challenges will surely come but take them as learning steps to achieving your successful business goals.
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Why LoA loves it…
Meeting Bupe Chipili Mulapesi is an inspirational experience, as she is a wonderful example of how it is possible to turn a passion into a thriving business. She has taken an interest and passion for strawberry growing and used that as the foundation upon which to build a success business. She has tapped into the expertise and experience of other women mentors to ensure she learns from those who have gone before her in similar fields. And, today she is paying it forward by creating work opportunities for other women who benefiting from the growth and development of her business in her local community. Bupe has a big vision, and the determination to match. She is definitely a woman entrepreneur to watch in the coming months and years! --- Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa