Homemade chili sauce means business for Malawi entrepreneur

After help finding new markets, one man’s chili sauce empire is taking off

Timothy Pondani is a father of three and a budding businessman, running an up-and-coming chili sauce enterprise called Wozawoza based in Chilomoni Township in Blantyre, Malawi. 

Pondani started his business from home in 2011 with capital of K2,000 (approximately US$3), producing six bottles of chili sauce a week and selling to neighbors and friends.

It was a singular venture – the forty-three-year-old had no office or any support staff.

But, having found new markets for his sauces, Pondani has expanded, now producing more than 6,000 bottles per month and with profits of more than K300,000 a month.

“I was part of the trade mission that went to Tete in 2017 organized by the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC). The meetings we had there helped me to identify about eight potential buyers for my chili sauce. I am currently supplying to two shops in Tete because of my current production capacity. I supply 250 dozens of the sauce every month since June 2018,” he said.

Timothy Pondani

MITC, in partnership with the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), has been working to identify new international markets for Malawi’s products, and small business owners like Pondani are a focus because of the opportunities to increase incomes. 

“I thank the EIF project through the MITC for giving me the opportunity to discover international markets for my chili sauce. I am now able to provide for my family, be it food, school fees and other basic needs,” he said.

And, having expanded the business, Pondani now has four permanent employees and two temporary staff.

“I give them a salary of K45,000 (US$60) each for the permanent ones. They are now able to support their families through this business,” he said.

His sauce is made from fresh peri-peri and kambuzi chilies that he gets from local farmers in surrounding districts like Thyolo, combined with vinegar and other additives. He still uses a hand-cranked machine, but with his expanded production, has plans to procure a modern machine.

And, his sauces are pre-certified by the Malawi Bureau of Standards.

Wozawoza sauce

Besides supplying the international market, Timothy is selling his products in select local shops and restaurants. He is in discussion with the management of Peoples Trading to stock his products in their shops, and has a distributor in Lilongwe where he sends 300 dozens of his chili sauce every month.

MITC CEO Clement Kumbemba said, “It is important to support small businesses in Malawi like Pondani’s because they have a great impact on the livelihood of the community and also they make a great impact on the socio-economic status of the country.”

He added that Wozawoza’s story was inspiring and could be a model for other local businesses, explaining that as a country Malawi is striving to promote small businesses because they can uplift entire communities. 

Meanwhile Pondani has plans to diversify his business, wanting to venture into fruit juice production. He has already bought the machine and is ready to get started.

KEYWORDS: Agriculture & Trade

CREDITS: Header image by Mr.TinDC/Flickr