At Sensi Tech Hub our Firestarter entrepreneurship programme has paved the way for some of the most exciting new businesses in the Sierra Leone. From branding local specialties to the latest fruit smoothie craze, Freetown’s young entrepreneurs are making a splash in West Africa’s culinary industry.
Taste of Salone is one of the upcoming businesses from our latest Firestarter training programme. It is run by a 31-year-old Henrietta Mbawah from Freetown who loves nothing more than cooking so she decided to turn her passion into business. We spoke with her to find out how she started her business from scratch using the tools she has learned so far during her Firestarter training at Sensi Tech Hub.
Hi Henrietta, so tell us about your business?
My business idea is to start re-branding our local food. I love cooking and I love to promote our local specialties. I got my inspiration from a local store when I made a visit to Ghana, i saw a plantain chips which i bought because the packaging was appealing.
I started my business last year at the national stadium exhibition where people from other countries display their products. There I showcased my groundnut cake, Benny cake and plantain chips to name but a few. It was well packaged and the turn up was great.
How did i start my business?
I started with Le 500,000 (Five hundred thousand leones) and it was a test case but the money I got from it was hug and the demand was high. Since that day I make up my mind to focus on my business and I know is something that I will make profit from, so that’s why am investing in it but my biggest challenge presently is the finance.
What’s your dream for Taste of Salone?
My dream is to establish my business at the Lungi International Airport so that experts and diaspora can conveniently buy local food stuffs to take back home. The current issue is that food processing takes time and often people are not able to find food that is packaged properly.
I believe there is market for my business, Taste of Salone, locally and even internationally because there are lots of Sierra Leoneans abroad and foreigners who have come to love our local food. With the right marketing I think I can be really successful.
What do you think makes you a good entrepreneur?
I am an actress, TV personality and women and children’s activist, which has given me confidence to get this far. The fire starter course has given me the opportunity to network and I have learnt a lot about business, entrepreneurship, how to add value to my business and much more.
What do you see in the future for your business?
I hope that my business is going to create employment for farmers that produce local food, young people who are looking for jobs, especially women. I hope that Taste of Salone will solve the problem of lack of convenient access to local specialties in Sierra Leone.
I also wants to say thank you to Sensi Tech Hub and their funders for this wonderful Firestarter training course, it has changed my life.