To reduce fruit waste in Botswana and capitalise on indigenous crops, local enterprise Maungo Craft is producing a range of unique ‘super food’ preserves.
Award-winning gourmet jams, marmalades and chutneys are the products of Bonolo Monthe’s social enterprise, Maungo Craft, which is using up marula fruits left over from oil pressing. Maungo Craft’s products include a range of unique and healthy preserves, containing low or no sugar, and are also made from other wild and abundant crops, including berries and baobab.
“We create our flavour profiles in-house and go through a rigorous research process. If we find a similar flavour profile somewhere else, we simply pivot and make something completely different,” says Monthe, who is managing director at the enterprise, which she co-founded in 2017 along with Olayemi Aganga and Motseoeme Taunyane. “One of our popular flavours is called Nana and this low sugar jam has a unique flavour profile of marula, banana and coconut. Another is Mara Mara and this spicy number contains smoked marula, chillies and ginger. We put culture in a bottle and we want people to taste Botswana,” says Monthe.
The marula seed oil companies Maungo Craft works with harvest the fruits from rural communities. “We formed symbiotic relationships with companies that use the marula seed to make cosmetic skincare oil. These companies also press the fruit to extract the oil, while we use the fruit that would otherwise typically go to waste. By doing so, we are creating much needed jobs, as well as diversifying the economy of the country,” Monthe explains.
Maungo Craft has commercialised the indigenous fruits by tapping their nutritional value; marula is rich in vitamins and nutrients, with eight times the vitamin C of oranges, for example. The business, which employs five people, started holding tasting sessions for its products at farmers’ markets and picked up on a growing demand for healthy foods. “Market trends are moving towards low and no sugar options and we feel this is the right thing to do as a young, new brand,” she says.
Maungo Craft – which started in a home kitchen – has won 11 local and international awards. As winner of the Generation Africa GoGettaz Agriprenuership competition in Ghana in September 2019, Maungo Craft was awarded US$50,000 (€45,490). It is using the money to equip its new factory, to scale the business, buy raw materials and packaging, and expand its team. “It was a blessing to have made it to the top of the GoGettaz competition that had over 3,000 applicants! It was validation for all the hard work that my co-founders and I have put in over the course of the last 2 years,” Monthe says of the award.
The business has sold over 6,500 bottles since mid-2018 at an average price of €3.60, and is now looking to tap into new markets. “Our plans to scale involve exporting our products across several markets in Africa and we are also in talks with buyers in the American market,” explains the excited entrepreneur.