Zambian food startup Sage Valley lands financing from Empress Fund

Posted on: 20 July, 2020 at 5:39 PM

Zambian startup Sage Valley has been awarded a revolving working capital facility of up to K250,000 (about $13,792) by the Empress Fund based in South Africa.

Sage Valley was established in October 2019 to produce locally made spices and pastes after sisters Zita and Nancy Kafwimbi noticed a gap in the market. The funds secured through this facility will be channelled towards increasing their production capacity and meeting increased demand for their products.

“Our products recently got listed in a number of Shoprite stores and this facility came at the right time to enable us to meet the increase in demand for our product. It is especially exciting for us as a young business to get this facility during this pandemic when many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat,” says CEO and co-founder Zita Kafwimbi.

The Empress Fund was established by a syndicate group of high-net-worth individuals from across the African continent and diaspora, to invest in the growth of women-owned businesses. Regional chairperson of the investor group, Faith Mukutu said, “It is important for us as investors to be increasingly innovative in the financing vehicles we employ to support women’s businesses. Access to finance for women entrepreneurs on the continent is still a challenge with prohibitive terms and conditions that prevent their growth. As an investor group, providing different types of financing for the differing business needs is what sets us apart. We also strongly believe locally produced goods are best for Zambia and should be prioritised over imports.”

In addition to being listed in Shoprite, Sage Valley spices are also available in Melissa Supermarkets with plans for listing into more stores nationwide. “This is a big boost for our business and encourages us to keep going as young entrepreneurs. For us, this is a vote of confidence in the work we have put into building a great brand and range of products,” says Nancy Kafwimbi, COO and co-founder.

The Empress Fund is managed by Africa Trust Group (ATG) based in Cape Town, South Africa. It specialises in innovative financing vehicles from for women-owned and women-enabling businesses in Southern African Development Community region. “Businesses like Sage Valley Spices are particularly attractive to us as they have the potential to create extensive value chains that support other women-owned businesses. There is a huge scope for a business like this to support small scale farmers on the one side of the chain for example and packaging businesses on the other side and so investing in it creates several economic ripple effects,” says Lelemba Phiri, principal at ATG.

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