Am Joyce Kyalema a young woman entrepreneur aged 29 from Uganda and a gender activist. The founder and CEO of Josmak International (U) Ltd, a 2013 SEED Award Winner. I also serve as the Executive Director of Rural Women and Youth Development Organization (RWYDO), an organization I founded to organize vulnerable youth and women in rural areas to find ways of increasing their household income, nutritional status and food security.
The initiated projects directly empower youth and women to fully participate in their self -coordinated development for self- reliance and to promote gender equality development programs in their communities. In November2014, i was recognized and awarded as a rising star woman entrepreneur by the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL).
In 2014 I was a finalist in Project Inspire 5 Minutes to Change the World which is a joint initiative from the Singapore Committee for UN Women and Master Card to help young change makers create a better world for women and girls in Asia- Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.
In December 2014, I was chosen to be publishing on iLearn, a global mobile-learning platform for and by women entrepreneurs a platform provided by UN Women’s Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment. In 2015 was among the 1000 African entrepreneurs who were selected by Tony Elumelu Foundation Enterpreneurship Programme.
In September 2015 I was awarded as the best young woman entrepreneur in Agribusiness by CURAD. I have just completed my mentoring in business programme with the Cherie Blair Foundation for women with a certificate.
What we do
JOSMAK International (U) Limited is an enterprise which was started with an aim of organizing vulnerable women in rural areas to find ways of increasing their household income, food security, nutritional values to help in solving malnutrition in their children and the surrounding areas, un employment for young women and environmental problems where by planting more pumpkins reduces land degradation.
It was established and registered in 2014 to provide a wide range of agricultural value added products. The enterprise is engaged in pumpkin growing and value addition for social, environmental and economic benefits to the Ugandan community.
We are currently offering a variety of organic pumpkin products of good quality, durable and easy to access at national and international market. A sample of these products include; Pumpkin Juice, Wine, Pumpkin Leaves powder made from leaves and flowers, Pumpkin roasted seeds, Pumpkin seeds powder, Pumpkin flour which is used to make bread, cakes, cookies, Bagias, pumpkin soup, pumpkin tea spices, seeds butter among others.
We are environmental conscious and all residues from products are used to make animal feeds and manure for improved agricultural productivity. All these products contain nutritional supplements good for health boosting.
The enterprise is a high social impact business that aims to mitigate the prevalence of malnutrition in Uganda and neighboring countries soon the whole world. It has a significant socio-economic impact on its 80 smallholder farmers and suppliers by working directly with the groups, thus eliminating the need for intermediaries and allowing for a higher price to go directly to farmers.
The business also conducts regular on-the-ground training to farmers through its agronomists and additional trainer education to disseminate best practices throughout its network. Health and nutritional standards of 500 households has improved in the community we are working in. Employment for 80 youth and women in pumpkin growing and value addition created within one year in the enterprise. Food security for 500 households has been improved. Improved access to basic education and sustainable agricultural skills to 80 rural women
What motivates me to do what I do is that after researching that pumpkins are so nutritious, and have many benefits, Pumpkin seeds are 24% protein and are very rich in Zinc, which not many foods contain, yet is important to our body in many ways, including increasing immunity, promoting cell growth and division, improving sleep mood and our senses of taste and smell, promoting eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and decreasing chronic fatigue, depression, acne, low birth weight babies, learning problems and poor school performance in children, prevents prostate cancer among others.
The enterprise also creates many job opportunities at several stages of the value chain, from growing the pumpkins and supplying to the enterprise, through processing different products, packaging, branding, marketing and sales among others for the people in my community. For food security in homes, pumpkins can be kept for more than 8 months when raw after harvest and when processed it can go for up to one year so this enterprise is very good in solving food security. Environmental problems like land degradation can be solved by planting more pumpkins, it retains water in soil and climate resilient crops.
My goal is to be the leading supplier of pumpkin products worldwide so the steps
I want to take to achieve that are:
- To set up a pumpkin processing plant which will enable us to increase on the production and meeting the demands of our customers and getting new ones.
- We want to develop marketing strategies to sell pumpkin products valued at USD 15,000 monthly by end of 2017
- We also want to diversify into processing other vegetables and fruits such as carrots, tomatoes and chili sauce, pineapples, berries among others by December 2016.
- To expand production of pumpkin products to 10 new varieties by August 2016.
- We need to acquire irrigation systems that will be used to water the pumpkin plantations in order to avoid effect of climatic changes on pumpkin crops this will help us produce throughout the year.
What we have done:
- With the help of International Labour Organization/ Youth Enterprenureship Facility grant we got, I have managed to train 50 youth out of school and single mothers how to grow pumpkins and add value to them in the district of Mubende.
- After winning Africa Award with SEED Initiative, I used the seed funds to train other young women in another district of Mityana how to grow and add value to pumpkins. This totals to 80 youth I have trained in two districts who have also trained others which has created employment for them since they were out of school and others had never even gone there. Single mothers can now take care of their children and pay for them school fees.
- I have also acquired some small manual machinery which I use in production of some products.
- Enterprise Uganda provides continuous capacity building and mentorship to the enterprise staff managing the pumpkin enterprise.
If am selected to be a YAP Champion, I will use the funds as follows:
2500 for Certification of products by Uganda National Bureau of Standards.(UNBS) by end of August 2016.
2500 for training other 50 young women in Masaka district in pumpkin growing and value addition who will later train others for job creation by end of September 2016.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Joyce Kyalema (Uganda) – j.kyalema(at)gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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