Improving access to diverse and nutritious foods in Mozambique

GAIN’s marketplace for nutritious foods is helping a businesswoman in Beira sell a diverse range of fresh and nutritious food to communities at affordable prices.  Rafael Nzucule, Planning and Communication Manager at GAIN writes.

It is 14:23 when we arrive at Elizabeth Cavadias’ house. She lives in the Manga neighbourhood in the city of Beira, the capital Sofala, Mozambique. Sofala is a province rich and famous for its fish and other seafood. As we arrive, the intense heat contrasts with the rain that has been falling for some days now, flooding the streets and the sidewalk. Elizabeth’s business is in the same building as her home, and along with her husband, she proudly takes us on a tour of the facilities. In this shop she sells a large variety of fish like locally sourced grouper, barracuda, plaice, tilapia, mullet, imported horse mackerel, squid, and shrimp, as well as a large variety of other products such as chicken, chicken offal, maize flour, rice, edible oil and much more.

The facilities in Elizabeth’s shop are being remodelled. New air conditioning units are being tested to better preserve the quality of the fish, and new stainless steel tables for fish processing are being installed. At the far end of the building, there are three cold storage units. The first one is a freezing unit where all arriving and processed products are stored here for eight hours. After that, the products are packaged and distributed to the other cold rooms. The company is also planning to buy a power generator to overcome the frequent power surges in the region. With these many improvements, the company’s production capacity has more than doubled. From the initial 30 tons of seafood a month, these improvements will contribute to an increase of over 60 tons per month. The local population can now buy a diversity of fresh and other basic products at more affordable prices close to their homes. Elizabeth kindly shared the story of how she and her business got to where they are today.

“I started my business back in 2007 as a hobby. In that time my husband was working in the timber industry and I stayed at home with our children. When he returned from the field at the end of the month, he would take me in his van to buy horse mackerel in town, approximately 50 boxes at a time. I used to sell the product here at home, as there was considerable demand for the product. After a while, a Zimbabwean partner of my husband sold us a completely new van. I started using that car to help me in the business. Those were not easy times. I would drive all day long until it was dark, under the sun and in the rain. I just did not give up on my dreams. After a while we increased our supply and diversified the range of products we sold because our clients demanded for more. Other than horse mackerel, we started to sell locally sourced products. We then realized that our business was established and made the decision to build our own infrastructure at the back of our house. My business grew and I skyrocketed.”

Elizabeth’s business, Elizabeth Cavadias, Lda., purchases, processes, stores, distributes and sells a large diversity of seafood. Legally registered in 2008, in its initial stages, the company would buy the product and store it in rented facilities at the Beira fishing harbour, where they also processed the fish. After some years renting, the company decided to build their own facilities, thus reducing their production costs, and allowing them to sell quality fish at reduced prices.

The business is receiving technical and financial assistance from GAIN’s Marketplace for Nutritious Foods. The company has been a member of the Marketplace Community of Practice since 2014 and has since then participated in different training sessions offered by the project. The training actions focused on improving the company’s management and quality systems. Thanks to a strong business plan, Elizabeth Cavadias, Lda. received $95,450 from the marketplace to make improvements to their processing facilities, purchase air conditioning and cold chain systems, ice making equipment and a power generator. The company also used the funds to install stainless steel equipment and other fish cutting machines and scales. The company has also received technical assistance in best practices for food processing and in the development of a business plan.

Elizabeth said: “With the support I received from the marketplace, we are making significant improvements in our business. In normal conditions, we could only make these improvements in 10 years. Now, we will be more competitive. We will be able to sell fish with better quality and at more affordable prices to the population. We will increase our distribution channels in the provinces of Manica, Nampula, Tete and Zambezia. As a matter of fact, we are already selling fish in these provinces, through our small outlets. We believe we can contribute to improving the dietary diversity of our communities, therefore improving their nutrition, while we make profit from our small business.”

“In the next stage, we will be consolidating our business. We differ from our competition in the quality of the products we offer, but most important, our customers can buy as much as they can afford. We also distribute fish to other retailers and they are responsible for expanding our distribution channels. We also guarantee that the fishermen that supply our business have a reliable buyer. In order to make sure that the product is fresh from the source, we will also install an ice making unit. This ice will be distributed to the fishermen and that will contribute to keeping the quality of the fish, until it reaches our processing unit. We have the intention to improve the quality of the products we give to our customers and we want to have a certified business,” says a proud Elizabeth, eyes shining.

In February 2017, Elizabeth was invited by GAIN to participate at the SANKALP 2017 Forum in Nairobi, together with other grantees of the Marketplace, and government and private sector guests. This visit was an opportunity for an exchange of experiences with Kenyan businesses assisted by GAIN’s marketplace and to interact with investors participating at the SANKALP event.

The marketplace is a project implemented by GAIN, in Mozambique, Kenya and Rwanda with funds from the United States Agency for International Development since 2013.

This article was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of GAIN and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Published 25 April 2017