After receiving specialist skills training as part of the T-LED project, Celina Kisha Chibanda has overcome many challenges to develop a successful food processing business.
Celina runs her small business from her home in Iringa, Tanzania. Success has not come easily: she faced multiple barriers including a lack of capital, limited business knowledge and a community out of sync with her ambitions. The VSO-supported Tanzania Local Enterprise Development (T-LED) project is helping entrepreneurs and small business owners like Celina to thrive in four districts in Tanzania.
A passion for food
“My whole life, my passion has always been for food. Even while I was working in the local garage 20 years ago, I would make small cakes, and fry groundnuts, then fill my pockets with them and take them to work to sell. People loved the food I would make.
“Many women in the community thought I was strange. They couldn’t understand why I was doing this when I already had a job at the garage. I couldn’t help it though – food is in my blood. So I didn’t really care what people thought.
Learning new skills
“I heard about some training on food processing that was due to take place though the Small Industries Development Organisation [a T-LED partner]. It was to be six weeks long and based in Dar es Salaam, but I managed to get permission from work to attend."
“I took courses including how to process different foods like nutritious flour, how to make peanut butter, how to dry vegetables, make snack foods, and so on. When I got back to Iringa after the course I was very excited. I thought that since I had attended I would be able to help other women in the community by sharing the training.
“The women all refused. It was so frustrating trying to convince them to take the training. They thought it was a disturbance to their usual way of doing things."
Going full time
“After a year, I quit my job. By 2002 I had registered my company under the name ‘Chi Products’, and was doing food processing as a business. All this time I was slowly saving, and finally by 2005, I managed to buy a small hand-operated machine for grinding peanuts.
“I researched other products I could make and began to produce garlic paste, soya drink, and nutritious flour, made of ground rice, maize, soya and finger millet. You can use it to make a nice porridge.
“I sold door-to-door, in the markets, at the local supermarkets and in offices. Lots of people told me that they enjoyed my products very much. It motivated me to keep going and to do even better – that’s why I’m here right now.
What success means for Celina
“When I began the business my daughter Catherine was in Standard Four [school]. Today she is taking her Master’s degree at the University of Dar es Salaam – all possible because of the business.
“Right now I am lacking the technology to make the process more efficient. We are peeling hundreds of cloves of garlic every day by hand. I am still making my peanut butter by hand, removing the skins and operating the grinder. It is a lot of work, and saving is very slow.
“The investment in my business so far has been from my own savings; I have never taken a loan. From my savings I built a house that I want to turn into a production area."
Changing community attitudes
Now they respect me
“Now those women who once thought I was strange respect me. After I started the business I bought this house. Every time I managed to achieve something new, they would come to me and ask, ‘how did you manage?’ All that time ago they were not interested, but now they respect me.”
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We've worked in Tanzania since 2005, building healthy communities, strengthening inclusive education systems, and supporting people to develop secure and resilient livelihoods.
The GAC-funded Tanzania Local Enterprise Development (T-LED) project is supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to thrive, and increasing employment opportunities within them.