Dar es Salaam. The path to success is full of challenges – as what 32-year old Emmanuel Moshama experienced as only two out of over 100 job applications that he sent out were successful.
But, according to the young man, none of the two jobs he was offered were anywhere near what he expected would help him realise his dreams of a successful future.
However, he did not give up hope, even as he was preparing to send out many more job applications. So, he landed another job with a proposed water supply project in Lindi Region.
However, construction work was not an area that interested him. In any case, that particular project later failed to continue for lack of funds.
That was when it dawned on him that he should shift his focus from salaried jobs to entrepreneurship.
Young Emmanuel, therefore, decided to use the abundant coconuts in Lindi Region by starting a coconuts business.And, as it has turned out, he is now receiving job applications from different people, instead of him sending out job applications as the case was before!
“I studied banking and financing at the Institute of Finance and Management (IFM) in Dar es Salaam, but I have ended up doing a coconut-and-sesame-oil business, under my company named Moshama Investment Company Ltd.
“This currently provides me with reasonable income – although I have not achieved all my goals in life,” he says – stressing that it is important for young people to know early in life what they want in life.
He says coconut oil is very popular and the demand is high as people use it for moisturizing dry skin, promoting wounds-healing, and has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Also the fatty acids in coconut oil enable the body to burn fat, and provide energy, he says – adding that Lindi Region produces lots of coconuts, but the locals are yet to fully utilise them as raw materials for the making marketable products.
According to him, the benefits of sesame oil include preventing diabetes, reducing blood pressure and lowering cholesterol. It is also good for digestion, boosting heart health, and preventing cancer.
His firm, Moshama Investment Company Ltd, currently produces 400 litres of coconut oil, and 350 litres of sesame oil, a month which he sells in local markets in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza and Dodoma, as well as exporting some to Kenya, Germany and the US.
Mr Moshama told SMEs Digest at The Citizen that there were many different types of coconut oil in the market. But, his products were natural; they were sun-dried, and were not mixed with anything else.
Since he started the business in 2018, Mr Moshama has already invested over Sh90 million in the business, using his savings from earlier salaried jobs, as well as reinvesting income from selling oil products.
His company also employs four people full-time, and ten others part-time. It is also benefitting a relatively large number of coconut and sesame farmers, as well as women entrepreneurs who make soap using residuals from his operations.
Mr Moshama received training and branding from the Small Industries Development Organisation (Sido). But he has also been learning much through the seemingly ubiquitous Internet and various exhibitions that have helped him to get exposure and experience from others.
“When I was in college, I was already thinking of owning a factory. But, after I graduated in 2013, I was employed as shopkeeper in Kariakoo, Dar es Salaam where I was selling mobile phone handsets, while continuing to look for a better job,” he tells SMEs Digest.
“In all my life, Isubmitted 100 job applications – and was called for interviews in some of them. But, believe it or not, I succeed in only two. Most unfortunately, however, the salaries in both jobs were pitying, which made me quit after only two weeks.”
Mr Moshama also told the SME Digest that when he continued to look for a better job, he landed one in a water project construction in Lindi Region, at which he worked briefly before turning to entrepreneurship.
“When I was in Lindi, I used to see people boiling coconuts and extractingoil from them. So, I started to do the same – and, before long, I was making good money even before I had developed a brand name for the products,” he recalls.
After a while, Young Moshama started receiving orders for the oil on the phone from customers – and that was when he realised beyond reasonable doubt that there was indeed a huge opportunity in the area.
“Many manufacturers mix coconut oil with white oil. But,my product is different; itdoes not contain any chemicals – and that is why it is liked in the market. Ours is pure and natural oil,” he says. He also says that, after succeeding with coconut oil, he embarked on the sesame oil business.
Value chain, future plans
More than 50 farmers benefit from selling their coconuts to the Moshama Investment Company’s factory.
“We have now started producing activated charcoal by using coconut shells, which we then sell in Lindi Region. But we are planning to improve in the coming days, after we import machinery for the job,” he said.
“In about two years to come, the plan is to increase the number of employees to about 30 – and also increase production of both coconut and sesame oils to between 1,500 and 2,000 litres a month – and ensure that more and more people benefit through the value chains system,” he said.
“I’m currently setting aside some money. My plan is to travel to Indonesia next year to purchase modern oil refining machineries that use solar system to produce oil – and further expand by production and market,” he said.
Many startups fail for lack of adequate funding, as most commercial banks in Tanzania are not ready or willing to lend to budding entrepreneurs or small traders.
“In my journey, I have written over 30 proposals seeking loans from various banks and other financial institutions in Tanzania, without success.
Some bank managers visit your project and congratulate you, and they ask you to put in a loan application. But, after that, nothing concrete happens,” he lamented.
In that regard, he advises youth who are thinking of starting a business to “seek capital from relatives, friends, but not from our banks because they will not lend to young folk.’
But he also called on the government and other well wishers to look into the possibility of helping startups projects for our youth and women so that they can also be successful in life.