Passion in drying fruits and vegetables
Early this year, Clara Ibinya was among the 12 finalists of the Sankalp Africa Award. She is the founder and Managing Director of Claphijo which was started in 2002. She got the idea to start her business after during her childhood as she observed her mother drying sweet potatoes, vegetables and some fruits.
Clara received formal training in food processing from the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO). From the training, she acquired a small drier with 12 trays. Later, the University of Dar es Salaam which does research in drying fruits approached her. This led to an MOU and they built an improved drier.
This new one had fans and a solar panel to circulate the heated air. It reduced the number of drying days to one. In 2005, she was able to penetrate the market and was supplying her products to big supermarkets.
The demand for the dried fruit grew exponentially. Her supply was cut shot and she could no longer meet the growing demand due to her limited capacity. Clara was forced to cut down the number of chains she was supplying to three.
In 2009, she participated in the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation business plan writing competition and emerged as a finalist. She used the money received to buy an electric drier to improve the business. In the last couple of months, she been working on an USAID project to train other AAA members on the drying process.
“I also work as a trainer and get invitations from universities to give students talks on self-employment especially in agribusiness,” notes Clara.
Clara was set back in her business once again. She was forced to give up a section of her business in order to pave way for the road reserve. This did not dwindle her hope of reviving the business. She has been a member of AAA since 2011. She hopes to get more exposure and learn from other similar agribusinesses and receive more trainings.
The interaction with the members has enabled her to try new ideas and this has greatly enabled her to gain confidence in her business. She also hopes to participate in exchange programmes. “As a business person, you never stop learning.”