By JOHN CHOLA
Java Foods Limited won second prize in the Best Women Enterprise Exhibit at the 95th Agricultural and Commercial Show in Lusaka as it unveiled its US$6.5 million investment in a new noodle manufacturing plant.
Founder and Managing Director Monica Musonda has told Solwezi Today Magazine that her vision and dedication had paid off and Zambians were able to enjoy consistently high-quality instant noodles at good value.
This was due to Java Foods’ focus on quality and flavours, manufacturing excellence and skills transfer.
“…we would like to dedicate our win to all the Zambian women who are starting a business and who are following their passions—don’t doubt yourself. Your dreams are valid and you too shall succeed,” says Musonda.
She assures that Java Foods will continue to work hard to bring Zambians the very best instant noodles made from 100 per cent locally sourced wheat in the company’s internationally certified plant.
“We really have been focusing on a consumer who is pressed for time, who is on a budget, so we create products for them. So far what we have seen over the years has been a slow and steady growth, but I think with the support of Zambians we feel that we have grown into a regional brand as the product is now found in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana and lately going into Tanzania,” explains Musonda.
The Java Foods Limited factory located in Lusaka’s Chinika area will be out of capacity in the next 18 months, a situation that has led to the planned expansion estimated at US$6.5 million. “We are grateful to the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry and the Lusaka South Multi-facility Economic Zone who we sat down with to birth the coming expansion. The expansion is not just for instant noodles but using the locally sourced wheat we are looking at manufacturing other products. The Lusaka MFEZ has allocated us just over five hectares which allows us to put in a very high-standard international plant,” says Musonda.
She further says the new plant at Lusaka MFEZ will allow her company to expand the range of manufactured products, thereby consolidating its current position as the only plant outside of South Africa making instant noodles.
Presently, Java Foods Limited has about 100 employees with an additional 200 expected to be engaged at the new plant in the Lusaka MFEZ.
“What has really incentivized and motivated us is the real support from Zambians. eeZee Noodles is a testament that Zambians support Zambian products,” Mudonda explains.
She has described the Lusaka MFEZ as a great initiative that had brought many companies into one place, adding that the incentives for investing in the Zone were a boost to the manufacturing sector in the country.
“This year’s Agriculture Show Inclusive Economic Transformation is very important as you cannot change and grow Zambia without supporting local initiatives. We are raising our expansion capital through shareholders. We also speak to banks and as we grow bigger we also turn to internally raised cash. This is the inclusiveness we are talking about,” Musonda quips.
She notes that small companies borrowing from banks at 34 per cent continued to suffer stifled growth. She hopes that in future the cost of financing would come down.