The Business of Food
Posted on September 30, 2014
People in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) face a range of challenges, sometimes caused by malnutrition. Adding to this, the country does little to invest in its local agriculture sector: it imports produce which grows in the region. Instead of importing; these products could be harvested, processed, then exported to international communities. To know that the DRC is one of the poorest countries both in Africa and the rest of the world, yet, 90% of its’ land is arable is the driving force behind my brand. It gives me the impetus to continue developing my brand – whether to eradicate poverty, or simply to try.
My name is Benedicte Mundele and I am the founder of Surprise Tropicale. The idea of being at the forefront of nutrition in my community came to me when I was 16. I saw a problem; then I decided to create a solution by developing a healthy food and lifestyle brand to promote healthy eating in DRC. Given the economies of both the country and the African continent, the idea didn’t stop there. How could it with so much work to be done? I decided to play an active role in changing the dynamics of the DRC’s trade market, by being a participant with export potential.
The biggest lesson that I have learnt in my journey is that of the need to constantly develop the brand. You cannot be comfortable. You always have to innovate. When the company started, we provided services for a breakfast book club. We used that income to develop a product line, which today includes branded dry fruits of some of the world’s tropical fruits. With a full time team of 16, we hope to begin distributions in (firstly) local retailers, then expand across the continent. Although, at face value, my company is only proof of the saying: “to start a business…you have to start” there’s a little bit more to that. If we didn’t re-invest the income, we would still only be in the service industry. Now, we cater and have a well recognized food product in the market.
To me, there’s always more to be done. That is in business, in my community and country, and most importantly in Africa. Opportunity is all around, we need to take advantage of it.
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