Fundraising: Arusha Women Entrepreneur, producers of Tanzania’s premier natural “Mr Peanut Butter” brand

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Learn more about the entrepreneurs selected to fundraise in VC4Africa’s June CohortBelow we interview 
David Elias Mjuni of Arusha Women Entrepreneur, providing natural peanut butter & processed peanuts to retailers and distributors in Tanzania, and growing the premier brand “Mr Peanut Butter”. Inspired to raise capital yourself? Check out the call for applications for VC4Africa’s September Cohort. Interesting investment? Check out Arusha Women Entrepreneur’s VC4Africa venture profile, on which registered investors can see all details. 

How was  Arusha Women Entrepreneur started?

“At the Youth Employment Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2006, I decided together with a group of people to establish Arusha Women Entrepreneur (AWE) as a social enterprise: for profit making, but also contributing to the Millennium Development Goals on employment and undernourishment.

I had heard many complaints from retailers and customers about the inferior quality of existing peanut butter, and decided to go into the manufacturing of peanut butter. That same year I attended the training course “Environmental Enterprise” organized by Eco-ventures International in Tanzania, gathered reports and other information, studied the production process, and also attended different professional courses on food safety management systems, food processing and more, and trainings on peanut butter technology.”

What business opportunity do you address and what is the essence of your business plan?

“We provide natural peanut butter and processed peanuts to retailers and distributors. There is a growing demand for processed food products in Tanzania, particularly in urban areas such as Arusha, Dar Es Saalam and Mwanza, where population and income levels continue to rise. Also, more women in the professional work force translate to less time available at home for home-based production of peanut butter.

Local produced peanut butter in Tanzania can contain high levels of aflaxotin. It is estimated that aflatoxin causes 40% of all liver cancer cases in Africa. Aflaxotin is produced by a certain strain of fungi and is highly toxic, linked to cancer, liver disease, stunting, immune system suppression and death. AWE produces natural peanut butter containing exceptionally low levels of aflatoxine under the brand Mr. Peanut Butter.

Because of the growing demand in the ready-made food and the use of organic products, and also due to the reduction in the aflatoxin concentration our product is expected to increase in sales thus break even with in a period of 5 years.”

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What kind of customers do you serve?

“We supply our products to retailers such as retail shops, supermarkets and vendors in 5 regions in Tanzania, around Dar Es Salaam, Mwanza, Moshi, Arusha and Morogoro and added value industries. AWE is targeting new potential in wholesale distributors and institutions, hotels, tourism companies and schools.”

How have you seen the demand for your products develop?

“We started production in 2008 and presently we cannot handle the demand anymore! Originally geared toward the local Tanzania community, the market has expanded to include a much larger geographical area, in addition to a very broad consumer response. The market size is estimated to be about three times more than the existing market share.

The market for semi-processed ground nuts with lower aflatoxine contamination is readily available in European Union, UK and South Africa through fair-trade. Also in Africa the market is now on the growing trend, the market for peanut butter is likely to grow due to emerging demand for healthier and nutritious products.”

What are your unique selling points compared to competitors?

“Arusha Women Entrepreneur is building a reputation for high quality natural peanut butter and strong value, in a product filled with authentic Swahili flavour. We service our dealers just as if they were a part of the family – and that is our unique approach to marketing our products.

AWE is leading the way in seeking to tackle aflatoxin contamination and to extend aflatoxin risk management from export markets to the regional and domestic markets too. Secondly, we are supplying to a market niche in a mass market that currently is not served by local peanut producers.

We are not just processing nuts, but developing a new role in supply chain coordination, facilitating communication and trading between producers, processors, other manufacturers, distributors and different types of consumers. AWE is presently the only company providing natural peanut butter in Tanzania.

We aim to have a better product and packaging than our competitors. While there are many competitors at the mid price point, both regional and national, there are few direct competitors at the high price point. This is quite advantageous for AWE, providing additional chances to establish the premier brand of natural peanut butter.”

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What is your impact on development?

“We set up this enterprise in order to create job opportunities for women. We now employ women and youth, creating incomes and training. Presently we are expanding our business to source raw material form smallholder farmers. And we produce healthy, non-toxic peanut butter.”

What milestones have you reached to date?

“AWE it is in its 5th year of operation. Starting with a few outlets for our products, we now have over 40, with 20 supermarket chains and value added industry in the approval process of carrying our full line of products, and a large distributor intending to sell over $200,000 worth of our products annually.

Our staffs have attended different courses based on business management and quality control. After business registration, purchase of roasting and grinding machinery, we now also use bar code numbers, have prepared auditing reports and financial statements, and we attended different international trade fairs and local exhibitions.”

What was the greatest challenge you faced to date with your business? How did you overcome this?

“Lack of working capital and lack of capital machinery have been the greatest challenges. We overcame these by securing a loan from the bank and seed capital from Tanzania’s Private Sector Foundation.”

What kind of investments are you presently looking for, and which milestones do you want to reach with them?

“We are looking for venture capital investors and social impact investors. Our funding strategy is based on a two-year budget plan and the funding streams from social venture capital – loan or equity – and from income generated from our business services.

The total amount we are looking for to finance our business is 65,000 USD. The milestones we want to reach with this new investment are the purchase of new machinery, developing new distribution channels and designing new labels, preparing export plans, product certification and training of smallholder farmers in good agricultural practices.”

How can you proof to investors that your business will deliver?

“We use a proven technology to produce aflatoxine low products. Our team is carefully selected and has a proven track record in food processing. Our customer base grows steadily and we receive more orders than we can handle. Additionally our business will deliver because we have a strong management team and have long experience in this industry, and because demand of our product is very high. AWE has a board of advisors with over 60 years of administrative, financial, and sales management experience to assist us with management decisions on daily operations, and the long-range planning necessary for continued, consistent growth.”

How do you use VC4Africa, and whatwould you say to entrepreneurs who might consider to apply for VC4Africa’s September Cohort

We’re using the platform of VC4Africa to our benefit for networking with other entrepreneurs and to find finance for our business. VC4Africa is a good organization because it really links entrepreneurs and investors. Entrepreneurs from Africa should take these opportunities to strengthen their ventures!

Inspired to raise capital yourself? Check out the call for applications for VC4Africa’s September CohortInteresting investment? Check out Arusha Women Entrepreneur’s VC4Africa venture profileOnly investors registered on VC4Africa can get access to private documents and all other details of the ventures, and express their interest to invest.