“For intra-trade to develop within the African region, we have to focus on value addition,” says Jennifer Bash, the co-founder and CEO of Alaska Tanzania Industries Limited, a company involved in the processing, branding and distributing of food products in Tanzania.
"When we started, most of the products that could easily be sold in Tanzania were imported,” says Bash, a marketing graduate from Baruch College in the US. “We had eggs coming from the UAE and the UK and it is not because we did not have eggs in Tanzania, it is because the eggs we had were sold locally without being packaged and branded.”
Living in the US exposed Bash to how food and other commodities are packaged and branded for sale in supermarkets.
“When I came back, I saw things differently. I came with that knowledge and exposure you get from other countries. I visited supermarkets across Tanzania and I realised packaging and branding is one of the biggest challenges facing locally-produced products.
“Producing is not a challenge because we have a lot of organic food and a lot of well-processed foods, but when it comes to packaging and branding, that is where most fail.”
Bash is one of the 25 business people featured in How we made it in Africa: The book, which tells the stories of entrepreneurs who've built thriving ventures. The ebook launched on 15 October 2018.