A mayonnaise  factory in Roma

A mayonnaise factory in Roma

ROMA-A group of nine National University of Lesotho (NUL) students led by Retšepile Matamane, used their student stipends (chelete ea manpower) to create a mayonnaise mini-factory in Roma.

Their mayonnaise is selling like hotcakes in Roma and Maseru.
They hope to keep ramping up production and reaching more people.
The mouth-watering mayonnaise was years in the making. Now it is a reality.

Today, we would like to relate a story of the young man, Retšepile Matamane, and how he managed to convince a group of his fellow students to become “investors” in his business.
Other than Matamane himself, the following are part of the fearsome battalion: Nkopo Chaole, Palesa Nkaile, Rethabile Nthebe, Thakane Kome, Katleho Malakane, Tšoloane Mahlakeng and Motsabi Masitise.

“When I grew up, my sister used to produce a homemade mayonnaise which we would enjoy at home and that would be it,” Matamane said.
In that experience, Matamane said he noted something about Basotho in general, “it was like, everybody could make something but nobody was making anything.”

Basotho, he said, have the ability to make their own products but, and this is a big but, “why aren’t we making our own products for goodness’ sake?”
Why are we importing everything from outside?

So Matamane told himself that he would be different.
You may have realised something interesting and common to this 2000s generation.
First they question the thinking of the previous (1970) generation.
Then they do something about it.

What an amazing generation to keep an eye on!
When he found himself a student of Chemical Technology at the NUL, he started by experimenting with polish.
He said he created a polish of an amazing quality but the logistics of getting it into the market have held him back.

“What I find interesting about this product is that it is only made from materials available in the country.”
More will be said about this polish in the near future.
But then he recalled the good old days when his sister used to make them a mayonnaise and so, “I started researching about it.”

Then he used money (his student’s monthly stipend) to buy ingredients and tiny machines and he started testing.
He tested and tested and tested until a moment when he realised that his recipe could be produced with the same results again and again and again.
He was excited.
Then came the hard part.
That is…producing for the market.

Remember this generation is questioning the idea of why Basotho – and Africans in general — have a tendency to produce only for themselves and their families — the so-called subsistence production.
Well, producing for the markets is not easy.
You have to make sure that the way you make your food product is such that it tastes the same at all times.

You have to produce bigger quantities.
You have to package and you have to preserve.
That is the kind of culture we haven’t got used to in Lesotho and, thanks to the 2000s generation, we are exploring it from all angles and there is no stopping us.
So what would he do?
“First I approached my family to ask them to put some money but it was not enough.”

Then he did the unthinkable!
“I created my products, prepared a presentation and approached my fellow students.”
Well, if you haven’t been inspired by this generation, you have not seen anything yet!

Look, the traditional approach is to develop a product and then present it before “big” companies to invest.
In fact, the traditional approach emphasises that those “investors” have to be rich and come from outside the country (ke bo-ramatsete).
That old thinking does not cut it with these 2000s chaps!

Here is the guy who disregarded all known rules of how to seek investment and went straight to his fellow students and, in the process, created “investors” out of them.
“They (the fellow students) listened to my presentation carefully, looked at my product and then they were like, “where do we sign?””
Together they contributed their meagre cash from the National Manpower Development Secretariat and created a mayonnaise business.
They bought processing equipment, rented a room which they turned into a “mini-factory” and bought raw materials.

Four of them are working on the mini-factory which has a capacity to produce 50 bottles of mayonnaise every day.
Given the popularity of their product, they think they have nailed it.

So what do they hope to achieve with this? Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Matamane said.
His is a generation that is turning Lesotho’s unemployment into an opportunity.
They are part of the only generation that has been asked to fend for itself and thank goodness, it is fending for itself.

Own Correspondent

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