A Brief Moment: with Bethlehem Lakew, Co-founder of BeNu Foods
She studied food science and applied nutrition in Addis Ababa Science and Technology University. And she is proceeding her MSc in Food Science and Nutrition. In this short interview you will read about her ongoing effort towards nutritious food. Have a brief moment with this successful entrepreneur – Bethlehem Lakew.
My name is Bethlehem lakew, eminent scientist and co-founder of BeNu Foods, other than BeNu I am working as nutrition project manager at NEED Nutritional Product and Service PIC. And a host of the weekly “Tenachin Bemegbachin” radio show and SEWEGNA nutrition and lifestyle-based TV show at Fana Broadcasting Corporate. I started exploring nutrition when I was working as a Founding president of Food Science and Nutrition Student Association of Addis Ababa Science and Technology University. And the journey continued by being the first woman participant and granted a 3rd position on the 3rd annual innovation week in AASTU which created a very good platform to get to know and work with Amen Temesgen the other co-founder and CEO of BeNu Foods. I am inspired in serving the community by participating in different charity groups and currently is working as vice president at Rotaract club of LEWET and also volunteering at Nutrition 4 Education and Development Association (N4ED) as Maternal Nutrition consultant.
Could you please introduce BeNu Foods to the APF network members in Ethiopia?
BeNu Foods is a startup biscuit company in Ethiopia. Our business is a social enterprise that aims to produce a healthy, nutritional, affordable local based products for the community. BeNu is now developing its minimum viable product on a highly nutritious biscuit with high protein content and made from locally produced fresh grains and nuts. One full package of 6 BeNu biscuits provides sufficient amount of caloric requirement of a child; One full package can act as a meal replacement for children and also as a healthy snack.
In addition to our primary focus on biscuits for children, we also plan to provide biscuits targeted to other age categories and customer segments such as BeNuPlus for adolescents, as well as BeNuEnergy for athletes and older adults.
Our business model is “1-for-1” in that for every package of BeNu biscuits sold, one package is donated to needy children in the 2 to 5-year-old category by working in partnership with NGOs and feeding programs.
Could you share the big achievements of BeNu Foods in Ethiopia?
We currently received one nationwide award on social entrepreneurship and now the idea is heading to participate on DOT’s social innovator networking at Nairobi. We also had an opportunity to partake in worldwide young leader’s forum called One Young World that will be held in the Hague. We can say that the aspiration of BeNu is now being recognized.
How difficult is it to be a successful entrepreneur in Ethiopia?
Generally speaking it is five to ten times harder to start an entrepreneurial venture in Africa than it is in first world countries. And when it comes to us, here in Ethiopia, where the term entrepreneurship is not even popular, I find it very difficult to identify oneself as an entrepreneur. For example, in our venture, BeNu, I had to risk my job, my performance as a student, my financial stability, my family life, my leisure time and everything else so that I would pursue our dreams. Thankfully I can’t complain because we had a support system that is rare to find; which was the fact that we were incubated in blueMoon, Ethiopia’s leading Agribusiness incubator led by the famous Dr. Eleni. Had we not had these sort of support systems, I don’t want to sound skeptical but considering the fact that us being very young, working on a social agenda as opposed to an all-out business, inexperienced and without money, the chances of success would have diminished greatly. Because everything around you tells you to strive for survival and not to risk being ambitious. As a culture it is time to challenge this.
How can we support/promote BeNu Foods?
We are now being challenged in getting a raw material with our specification so it will be very great if there is any way we can get farmers that produce different types of crops in the specification that we want. We are happy to help them in achieving a high-quality production by providing different trainings we really want to work with them. Other than that, we believe in sharing, if you have any thing that you can share with BeNu starting from idea to seed fund we are very welcome.
What can you say about AgriProFocus Ethiopia?
It is an excellent platform for agri based companies like us to build our energy and network. Thank you so much for caring.