Monica Musonda, providing convenient, affordable and nutritious foods made from local products

by | June 2, 2017 1:55 am

After working in Nigeria and seeing the potential impact that convenient and nutritious foods could have on Zambia’s burgeoning young and fairly urban population, Monica returned to Zambia in 2012 to establish Java Foods. Monica manages the day to day operations of the business and is also responsible for the strategy and capital raising.

By way of background, Monica is a dual qualified English solicitor and Zambian advocate with over 16 years post qualification experience. She began her legal career working for the Attorney General of Zambia. She then went on to work in private practice for Clifford Chance (London) and Edward Nathan (Johannesburg – where she rose to the rank of partner).

She then worked for International Finance Corporation (Washington DC) and for Dangote Group (Lagos) as Director Legal and Corporate Affairs and was later promoted to General Counsel. Monica was the project lead responsible for the Group’s $400m investment into Zambia to build the country’s largest integrated cement plant, due to be completed early 2015. Her experience working with one of Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs gave her the impetus to start her own business and in 2012, she moved back to Zambia and set up Java Foods.

Monica currently serves as non-executive director on the Boards of Zambia Sugar Plc, African Life Assurance (subsidiary of Sanlam), Dangote Industries Zambia Limited and sits on the Microsoft4Afrika Advisory Council. She is the immediate past chairperson of Kwacha Pension Trust Fund, Zambia’s largest single employer pension fund. She has also sat on the board of Bank of Zambia (2011-2014). She is a 2013 Young Global Leader (World Economic Forum) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow. Forbes Magazine and Africa Investor named her as one of the leading Young Power Women in Business in Africa in 2013 and 2014 respectively. She sincerely believes that in order to develop our continent, we all must participate and build capacity and so in her spare time, she speaks to the Zambian youth about entrepreneurship and business development.

Java Foods was founded in 2012 with the objective of providing convenient, affordable and nutritious foods made from local products. Their vision is to become a leading food manufacturer in Southern Africa committed to providing high quality and nutritious food from local products at affordable prices.

Their core values are to deliver affordable nutrition, increase local production using local products, being innovative and enhancing the value of their shareholder investments while ensuring the fulfilment of their employees, customers, suppliers and community.

Java introduced their first product to the Zambian market in October 2012 in the form of eeZee Instant Noodles. Today, eeZee Noodles is Zambia’s leading instant noodle brand because it is seen as good value for money (affordable), convenient and also widely distributed.

Java Foods intends to begin construction on its own instant noodle plant in Lusaka and because they believe in providing affordable nutrition, they intend to look into the issue of fortification.

Malnutrition is one of the leading challenges facing Southern Africa. In Zambia, currently one in every two children is stunted. The effect of urbanisation has increased the cases of malnutrition due to non availability of nutritious foods. Many of the urban retail centres are stocked with foreign foods products (too expensive for the bottom of pyramid consumer) and are not fortified with valuable micronutrients. Because of these frightening statistics, nutrition has become a public policy priority. Many of the urban retail centres are being stocked with foreign foods products (too expensive for the bottom of pyramid consumer) and are not fortified with valuable micronutrients. Because of these frightening statistics, nutrition has become a public policy priority.

Accordingly, Java Foods has launched affordable highly nutritious cereals – eeZee Supa Cereal. “we believe that we can provide effective sustainable investment and innovation for improved technologies in nutrition. Our intention is to firstly, organise small scale farmers to grow products like soya, sorghum and become an exclusive offtaker thereby reducing the cost of ingredients through the creation of an efficient supply chain and secondly, to ensure that we distribute our cereals through our existing distribution network and also develop other channels.” She said.

Monica further adds that “we would like to further support training of community level staff and encourage greater alignment with agricultural distribution systems. Our intention is to have eeZee Supa Cereals available in retail stores across Zambia. Our hope is to alleviate some of the high levels of malnutrition due to the lack of nutritious foods on the market.”

Java Foods currently participates in the Business Linkages Programme (BLP), which is one of the 4 components of Private Enterprise Programme Zambia, a UK-Aid (DFID) funded programme.

BLP seeks to create and strengthen sustainable business partnerships between Zambian small and medium enterprises and corporations that see the increasing value in procuring goods and services locally. Using the Programme, Java Foods has been able to strengthen its business relationship with its largest customer, Shoprite, by increasing sales volumes and growing the eeZee brand.

Zambia has a high prevalence of youth unemployment. One of the ways Java Foods is assisting in tackling the challenge of youth unemployment is through the creation of a roaming sales team. Their roaming sales agents are a group of youths selling eeZee instant noodles and eeZee supa cereal in marketplaces and households in their community. Through this scheme, their roaming sales agents not only earn an income but also learn valuable lessons such as how to handle finances, sales and marketing, negotiation skills and social skills.

Globally, an estimated 161 million children under five years of age are stunted, 51 million are wasted and 2 billion people experience micronutrient malnutrition. Accordingly, 1 in every 2 children under 5 in Zambia is stunted or small for their age due to malnutrition. Malnutrition is a critical challenge.

The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Network was founded on a principle that everyone has a right to food and good nutrition. At the heart of the movement, national leaders in 55 countries are committed to prioritising multi-stakeholder efforts to address malnutrition.

Java Foods is a founding member of the SUN Business Network in Zambia. This network mobilises and intensifies business efforts in support of the SUN movement and to ensure all people realise their right to good food and nutrition. These commitments aim to improve nutrition of 166 million consumers each year by 2020. Java Food’s commitment is further strengthened by the fact that Monica Musonda sits on the SUN Business Network Global Advisory Board.

The Market Matters 2017 African Agribusiness Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Monica Musonda, for Java Foods’ contribution to Africa’s agribusiness sector and food security which was officially recognised during the closing banquet of the 2017 Making Markets Matter Executive Training Program for the African Agribusiness Sector in Somerset West, South Africa, on 11 May 2017. Java Foods joins a list of 8 other pioneering African entrepreneurs in receiving this honour.

The African Rural agribusiness Entrepreneur of The Year Award is a mark of distinction that recognizes the recipient’s achievements in improving the livelihoods of Africa’s rural communities through entrepreneurship.