By Prudence Minayo
At the heart of Makueni country, is Faith Mumo, an entrepreneur adding value to mangoes and exporting them overseas. Faith began having aspirations to become an industrialist while pursuing her education. A few years later, she would establish her own business, Iviani Farm, employing safe industrial practices to turn mangoes to crisps.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
The entrepreneur pursued Fish Farming Management at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
Following her graduation in 2019, she became an intern at the Makueni county government’s Department of Agriculture for a year. Thereafter, the devolved government put her in charge of a program that promotes fish farming. This nurtured her passion in sustainable agriculture.
She founded Iviani factory in the little known King’uutheni village in Makueni. Today, she is one of the largest buyers of mangoes in the county known for producing the fruits in large quantities.
The factory purchases mangoes from farmers at Sh20 per kilo, making their prices favorable compared to other factories and middlemen.
She turns the mangoes into crunchy delicious crisps which are nicely packed and shipped to other places. According to her, they ensure their fruits are of the highest quality .
The factory boasts of three large driers which are used to dry the mangoes.
Her workers wash, slice and dip the mangoes in a lime solution. The lime solution extends the lifespan of the mangoes to eight months and also assist in preservation of the rich mango taste. She said the lime solution is harmless, hence, it is a recommended preservative by industry regulators.
After being dipped in the solution, they undergo the drying process which takes up to six hours. Once they turn into crisps, the mangoes are ready for packaging.
By 2022, the factory processed about 1,600 kilograms of mangoes in a day.
A kilogram of the crisps go for Sh720 and it takes about seven medium sized mangoes to get a kilo. By the time she was granting Nation an interview, she revealed that they only make Sh326 from the fruits as the rest goes towards servicing a loan.
In order to get their machines, they signed an agreement with Village Industrial Power (VIP), who provided them with Sh2 million worth of boilers and dryers.
Their machinery are perfectly suited for the village setting as they can be powered with wood fuel. As a result of the deal, VIP helps to market the mango crisps in order for them to recover their loan.
The factory maintains very high standards of hygiene. People entering the factory have to wash thoroughly, and wear coats, caps and a face mask. Their feet are also sanitized at the entrance.
Mumo is part of the Makueni Youth Agripreneurs, which was formed to help youths develop business plans. Among other benefits, members get exposed to funding opportunities.
While the business is a wonderful way to prevent fruits from going to waste during high season, it faces a challenge when mangoes go out of season. To deal with this, the businesswoman hopes to try value addition on pineapples, bananas and other fruits.