Nourishing nations – and it is just the beginning: Profiling Ms Makekele Somo

It is said, for good reason, that what we put in our mouth matters. Good nutrition prevents disease and therapeutically reverses and treats illness. Also, it contributes to a better quality of life and longevity. On the other hand, a deficit in micronutrients can lead to disease, overeating and unhealthy behaviour.

Makekele Somo is an entrepreneur tackling this issue. She is the founder of Elvema Nutrition. The company operates from premises at the CSIR and manufactures and distributes nutritional instant porridge and other related nutritional products containing fortified Moringa Oleifera to individuals and retailers.

Moringa is known to be packed with many vitamins and nutrients and has a very high nutritional value; thus even small quantities can have a positive effect. The company’s future products from Moringa include a slimming and beauty range.

“It’s not always easy running a business. It is important for entrepreneurs to realise what their core business is and to understand the importance of having a proper business plan and model. This enables you to properly narrow your focus,” Ms Somo remarks on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Elvema Nutrition has been selected as a participant for several development programmes. In January 2015 the company was selected as a SMME for technical incubation as part of a Jobs Fund initiative at the CSIR Bio-manufacturing Industry Development Centre (BIDC). Last year Ms Somo was selected to participate in the Tholoana Enterprise Development Programme. Currently, Elvema Nutrition has been officially selected for the J P Morgan/Enterprisation Support Program, where J P Morgan and SAICA will give Elvema Nutrition subsidised accounting and Financial Management Support over a period of 18 months. Furthermore, Elvema Nutrition is also the commercialising partner in a project working on commercialising a pre-mix nutridrink, funded by SANBio under the BioFISA II Programme.

Even Minister Naledi Pandor, of South Africa, has remarked on the company in a speech of hers: “It’s a success story, it’s the sort of success that inspires thousands of others.” She continued by noting that Elvema is already selling products through several retail chains and also into 15 countries in Southern Africa. A promising beginning, to be sure.

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