HOMES INDUSTRIES ATTRIBUTES ITS EXCEPTIONAL RESILIENCE TO SMEDI SUPPORT
Homes Industries Founder and Managing Director - Victoria Mwafulirwa
Homes Industries is an agro-processing company that is located in Karonga, northern Malawi. The business is co-owned by Victoria Mwafulirwa who also happens to be its Managing Director. Victoria is a communications and supply chain professional. She has worked as Communications and External Relations Officer and Supply Chain Officer for Paladin Africa from 2007 to 2012. She also worked as SABC Africa Malawi Correspondent from November 2000 to 2005. Victoria is married to a loving husband and has a beautiful daughter.
Homes Industries was established in March 2015. Prior to this, Victoria managed a catering service company that provided food stuffs to the Malawi Defence Force at Chilumba Barracks and the University of Livingstonia Ekwendeni Campus for from 2013 to 2016. It works with over 1000 smallholder farmers in an out - grower scheme that grows sunflower, rice and groundnuts. We manufacture sunflower oil, peanut flour (Nsinjiro) as well as process and package brown and regular white Kilombero rice.
Homes Industries was birthed from a lack of quality food products in the community where Victoria lives. The business started with peanut flour and virgin sunflower cooking oil production, then later diversified to producing brown and white rice. Growing the business has not been easy but tenacity, consistency and persistence are what have kept the business going. Victoria has learnt through this process that growing a business is not always about money but also about building foundational systems and setting up efficient operational systems for the business.
Homes Industries currently employs 5 permanent staff and 15 temporary staff on a need-be basis.
In December 2020, the Managing Director for Homes Industries was one of the 24 women founders and entrepreneurs driving economic growth and development for Africa who were selected as finalists for the 2020 Entrepreneur Award from the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) Awards. She received the first prize in the category for Agri Entrepreneur Awards. AWIEF is a leading pan-African entrepreneurship and innovation non-profit making organization. According to AWIEF, “it was vital to acknowledge and celebrate women entrepreneurs in Africa for their leadership and innovation, and for showing exceptional resilience.”
Victoria Mwafulirwa attributes this resilience to the support her business has received from the government of Malawi in general, and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (SMEDI) in particular.
According to Victoria Mwafulirwa, Homes Industries founder and Managing Director, “Homes Industries has benefitted immensely from SMEDI through various capacity building programmes and many other such programmes aimed at promoting the growth and development of MSMEs. Presently, Homes Industries is in the process of acquiring a Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) product certification for its peanut butter and cooking oil with a 50% discount. All this is happening under the SMEDI/MBS partnership which enables MSMEs to benefit from a reduction in application fees for product certification with the MBS.”
Homes Industries Peanut butter
Homes Industries also won the 2020 Top Exporter to South Africa Award at the Inaugural Malawi Exporter Awards, beating long established companies. It also came second in the Top Exporter to the US category. The awards were held on July 29 by the USAid Trade Hub in Lilongwe.
Homes Industries pure Kilombero Rice loaded ready for shipment to South Africa
Homes Industries has faced business challenges that include limited financial resources, lack of equipment and other consumables like packaging material. Quality packaging materials are often imported because the locally produced packaging materials are of inferior quality.
Of course, lack of adequate funding is a major challenge to the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Malawi; and to aspiring entrepreneurs and even existing ones, the Managing Director for Homes Industries has this to say, “Focus and tenacity are crucial. Being able to withstand the hardships ensures that every effort will pay off. Do not be afraid to ask and learn, it is a process. Believe in yourself otherwise nobody will. Take risks”. “Have fun, understand that it is never easy but you can still enjoy the journey’.