By AGRA Content Hub

Fátima Bolacha is a 53 years old widow who had to take care of four children. Today she is a well-established business woman based in Ribáuè district, where she runs her small milling company. She is operating formally since 2011 and currently employs 5 full-time workers, with additional seasonal workers hired during the commercialization period.

As a challenge, she had to overcome the local taboos related to the women’s role in society in order to get established and move ahead. The milling activity started in a small building made from local materials and a grain mill she purchased. In the beginning she was just processing other people’s maize in a small scale on a demand basis.

From the beginning, she had been running the business in a disorganized manner, without strict control of the working expenses (direct and indirect business costs), no record keeping of the daily and monthly sales and purchases, no adequate resources management plan, etc.), it was kind of a “business based in luck”. Nevertheless, she was able to grow and received support from a couple of projects.

To purchase maize during the harvest and marketing period, she used to hire a considerable number of seasonal workers, which she paid salaries and food and accommodation subsidies.

The Otumiha project is working with her since the end of 2017 and the project technician has been assisting her in business organization, setting up a consistent management and accounting system, and linking to a network of VBAs and other SMEs from different districts. She also benefited from training on better management skills (costs calculations, organizational management and governance).

In order to get additional support to the management of the company, Fátima is supported by her daughter (presently doing her under-graduate studies) who also was trained by Otumiha.

As a result of applying the knowledge acquired through training, the business is well organized and with adequate book-keeping, which made her eligible to get a loan from developing bank GAPI in December 2018 amounting to 1,000,000 MZN (about 16,130 USD). With this she bought 5 tons truck, additional equipment to improve the quality of her product, repair the premix machine used to fortify the flour, as well as expanded the working capital.