Zambia’s fish processing pioneer Kasazi was inspired to start a fish processing company while listening to a presentation by a fish processor at a trade event in Uganda. Kasazi had been selected to represent her sister’s meat processing company at the event. That was in 2013. Today, Lotuno Enterprises is the only fish processing company in Zambia that makes fresh and smoked fish sausages, fish patties and smoked fish. Other products include fish bologna and frozen fish snacks e.g. fish pies and fish samosas. Kasazi dreams of the day when Lotuno will be a household name for fish products in Zambia and the region.
What you’ll hear in this episode:
- Being inspired to start making fish products while attending a fish trade event in Uganda.
- Starting out as a sole proprietorship and transitioning to a limited company.
- Returning to Zambia, experimenting and teaching herself how to make various fish-based products.
- Creating several products and then narrowing down the product line to the most popular items. Working with women fish mongers at the Kariba Dam and along Kafue River. Organizing them into an association, training them on hygienic fish handling and fish processing. Providing frozen storage and linking the association members to buyers.
- Distributing directly to customers and through Lotuno’s single outlet to get around unattractive supermarket payment terms.
- Avoiding bank loans by reinvesting company earnings in the business. Lotuno has also been the recipient of grants.
- Lobbying for Zambian fish sausage standards and lower certification costs for Small & Medium-sized Enterprises at the Zambia Bureau of Standards.
- Fears: Given the superstitions attached to catfish, will customers buy my catfish based products? This drove Kasazi to identify indigenous fish that she did not know about before.
- Challenge overcome: Creating an attractive brand image in order to penetrate the market: Lotuno received marketing, branding and packaging design support from two sources – Entry Point Africa (business intelligence & facilitation) and Challenges Africa.
- Lessons learned: Start with what you have. Pump what you make back into the business.
- Kasazi’s dream: Lotuno Enterprises will be a household name for fish products in Zambia and the region.
- Words of Inspiration: Follow your instinct and your passion. It will not be easy. Doors will eventually start opening but you have to take those bold first steps. You will achieve your dream.
Lotuno Enterprises Ltd.