Java Foods, led by Founder and CEO Monica Musonda, has emerged as a trailblazing force in Zambia’s food industry, offering the nation’s leading eeZee Noodles. Musonda’s entrepreneurial spirit and keen market insight led her to create a winning product that caters to the needs of consumers seeking convenient, nutritious, and affordable food options.
The birth of Java Foods was a result of a perfect alignment of factors. Zambia’s fertile land yielded abundant crops like maize, soybeans, and wheat, yet there was a lack of local food products utilizing these resources for the country’s urban youth. Musonda saw this as an opportunity to create something novel, a locally manufactured product that would resonate with the evolving tastes and preferences of the populace.
“People’s consumption patterns are changing, which means that they are choosing to use their incomes to buy products that would meet their needs and wants. What we noticed when starting out was that people are now buying different foods from what they used to buy before,” Musonda remarked.
In 2012, armed with determination, Musonda introduced eeZee Noodles, a product that established Java Foods as Zambia’s sole manufacturer of fortified noodles. The company’s operations model embraces inclusivity, serving various types of businesses, including chain stores, wholesalers, and small-scale retailers. Currently, over 1,000 businesses source Java Foods’ products, contributing to the development of agricultural diversity in the country, particularly in wheat production.
Through collaboration with commercial farmers and providing a local market, Java Foods has become an integral part of the local value chain. “Wheat, the key ingredient in our noodles, is grown exceptionally well in Zambia,” Musonda noted. “We engage with farmers to ensure that the volume and consistency of quality we require for our products meet the standard. By utilizing this versatile crop, we aim to inspire other local manufacturers to explore its immense potential.”
However, Java Foods faced challenges along the way, including skepticism and preconceived notions as a female-run manufacturing company. Building trust among suppliers and customers required unwavering dedication and a commitment to consistency. Access to finance was another obstacle, leading Musonda to put her personal assets on the line to secure necessary overdrafts. The Impact Finance Network, an initiative program introduced by Anglo American, came to the rescue, providing guidance, resources, and expertise to navigate the complexities of scaling the business.
“As a result of our involvement in the initiative, Java Foods has gained increased recognition, which has breathed new life into our brand, as investors now view us as a business brimming with growth potential. Moreover, this collaboration has opened avenues for us to explore expanding our product range, gain a deeper understanding of our market expansion possibilities, and finesse the inner workings of our business operations,” explained Musonda.
The transformative partnership with the Impact Finance Network has empowered Java Foods to set its sights on regional expansion and exports, projecting to be in four countries within the next three years, with exports contributing to 30 percent of their revenue. This reflects Musonda’s commitment to inspire and invigorate the local manufacturing sector, calling upon others to embrace the possibilities within their reach.
As Java Foods continues its journey, Monica Musonda remains steadfast in her commitment to quality, affordability, and local empowerment. With every bowl of eeZee Noodles, she envisions a brighter future where Zambian innovation and determination propel the nation towards prosperity.