Professor Rainer Trede
Based on my experience of over 30 years in promoting small businesses in four Asian countries and since 2000 in Namibia, such programmes can only be successful if the participants are carefully selected and if the required training is implemented in the business with additional mentoring.
We started a new programme cooperating with Team Namibia and through generous sponsorship from the Finnish Embassy. The tailor-made programme targeted micro and small businesses from Katutura running over two years.
The first step in 2017 covered the selection of participants based on written applications and thereafter interviews of the pre-selected participants. From over 400 applicants 85 were invited for interviews to finally select about 20 participants.
Ndahekelekwa (known as “Beauty”) Paulus was one of the interviewees. However, I never had the idea that she could be selected, because of her business idea to produce marshmallows. During the interview, I told her that, with such a product she has no chance. It is a cheap, imported product manufactured by large enterprises. She could never compete with them. “Beauty” was not shy to counter-argue me, the Professor. She had researched over years to produce unique marshmallows and - most importantly – she demonstrated enormous motivation and entrepreneurial drive.
She received the highest possible scoring (100%). I never forget her last words at the interview: “Professor, if you select me, I will prove that your opinion is wrong.” Indeed, she proved that I was wrong.
“Beauty” Paulus is a passionately optimistic Namibian female entrepreneur. Her entrepreneurial journey started after discovering the world of confectioneries. She has created a lot of sweet treats from her mother’s kitchen and marshmallow making was her favourite.
She explained: “Manufacturing is my aim. Namibia is dependent on exports of primary products and imports of processed goods. We need to diversify our economy. We must focus on manufacturing with value addition. I was aware of the huge competition in all our supermarkets, but I believed I could develop unique marshmallows.”
Thus, Paulus experimented with the production of marshmallows since 2013. For over four years she tried countless recipes before entering the market. She was successful, her range of marshmallows have the following unique advantages:
They are available in five amazing flavours, Vanilla and Cinnamon, Strawberry and Cream, Mint and Chocolate, Lemon and Coconut,
A variety of special designs in different sizes including animations for children,
Attractive packaging that entices customers to look at … and then to buy them.
I am not a special lover of sweets. Therefore, I asked my then 16 years old daughter, Sophia, to taste them. Enthusiastically she told me: “These are not marshmallows. These are gifts from heaven. They are light as feathers, they melt in the mouth, the different flavours are a unique experience for everybody from small children to grandparents. One can feel that these marshmallows are handcrafted with love and attention to details. Even you will love them,” she enthused and I did.
She did not only put all her attention on product quality but also marketing. She attended different markets such as Windhoek City Market, Wernhill Christmas Market and the Great Pop-Up Festival.
Paulus also personally visited supermarket chains and special food shops. She promotes her marshmallows via social media, radio interviews etc. Thus, her customers include retailers, event organisers but also private people, e.g. for children functions. Most successful was her participation in competitions to promote innovative small entrepreneurs. Ms Paulus won first place at the Adventure Pitch Night Competition and became the fourth runner-up for the NCRST Fembiobiz Competition.
She walked away with funding worth N$40 000 and a three-year lease of a stall at Bokamoso.
She was also invited to present her marshmallows in South Africa and neighbouring in Zambia. Now she no longer produces from home and she invested her prize money as well as savings in renovating her stall and in professional equipment. She has now a real manufacturing business registered in 2017 under the name Fluffy Mallows CC. “It is my vision to change the face of confectionery by pushing boundaries of innovation through making sweets so much more exciting than people ever knew,” she stated and added: “My deep passion for confections and devotion to work together with a continuous search for perfection, have all factored into making Fluffy Mallows what it is. In the near future, I would like to have my marshmallows stocked and selling out in most, if not all supermarkets in Windhoek. As for the far future, Fluffy Mallows should be stocked all over Namibia with a wider range of product and headed to other Southern African countries.”
These visions can become reality because Ms Paulus understood that the key to the success of small businesses is distinction from the competitors by innovation. For example, she is currently experimenting with special marshmallows specially created for diabetics.
She also realised - in contrast to other small businesses in Namibia - that product development must go hand in hand with marketing. Only then a business can grow sustainably, provide employment opportunities and reduce the number of imported products.
Interested customers can contact “Beauty” Paulus at 0812250771 or hellofluffymallowa.com or for more information via Twitter: @fluffy.mallows, on Facebook: Fluffy Mallows and on Instagram: @fluffy.mallows.nam
*Professor Rainer Trede is the Managing Member of Development Consultants for Southern Africa (DECOSA) CC
2020-05-07 09:40:36 | 3 months ago