Startup Spotlight: Twala Farming

Twala Farming makes green banana flour which they sell under the trading name called The AntHill Kitchen. Green Banana Flour is a prebiotic, gluten-free fibre that is scientifically proven to strengthen the immune system. 

Before she founded Twala Farming, Sue Burdett, the Director and co-founder of the business used to make green banana flour for her personal use.  

She stumbled across the health benefits of green banana flour through a friend and started making it in her kitchen.

 “My son and I were sick; the green banana flour helped us to heal. I did not have the notion to make this a commercial venture until I was inspired by Emma Parker from Impact Capital Africa. She said to us all, “Focus on what you are doing now and expand.” So often we are looking over the fence when we should be looking at what we have already.”

Using her skills as a chef and her husband’s passion for Regeneration Farming, Sue, focused on commercializing her green banana flour and set up the trade name; The Anthill Kitchen. This is a business that they are both passionate about.

Breaking ground in a business that serves a niche market can be challenging. During the early stages, Sue faced barriers in commercializing her product.

“As green banana flour was very new and unheard of, I knew asking the bank for a loan would be ridiculous. I had to learn new ways to generate money to start. I could not have started without having a husband who believed in me, he is my rock! Then finding an Angel investor who believed in my vision and goal was also an important step.” 

Sue went on to apply to Prospero for assistance to match what the Angel Investor had put in to help her little cottage industry into a commercial venture.

“I am so blessed to have a true Angel in my life, who is so inspiring and has such a vision. Prospero also gave me a chance that I would never have got through the traditional banking avenues. Thank you, Prospero! 

After completing the Prospero milestones for the Post Covid Grant, Sue participated in the Thrive Investor Readiness programme that we run in partnership with Prospero. She shares her key takeaways from the programme.

“I did not have a clear understanding of business, how to articulate my goals to other people and how to make milestones into achieving the steps needed to succeed in business. BongoHive helped so much by linking us with real-life successful mentors in similar industries. Their advice, knowledge and networks were invaluable. 

Sue adds that having a group of peers going through the same things as her business boosted her confidence in talking about her business and goals.

“I was honoured to have such great peers working with me through the course. We were like cheerleaders for each other! We have such great entrepreneurs and I am so excited to see them also succeeding after this course from BongoHive.”

Sue also shares that the programme helped her to be brave enough to try. “The thing that you are most afraid of is usually what you really should do to succeed in your next step.” 

When asked about the impact of the business, Sue had this to say:

“We are Regeneration Farmers, which goes beyond being organic; this focuses on the whole ecosystem, the farmer, the soil and the environment becoming more sustainable. Our bananas have not had any chemicals or chemical fertilizers since 2018, and we can already see the benefits. “

Twala Farming supplies its highly nutritious green banana flour to several niche shops in Lusaka, namely Little Gem, Artisan Design, The Pantry, and Grains and Greens. They have also begun supplying Umoyo and they are working to start supplying chain stores like Shoprite. Twala Farming also has plans to penetrate other markets around the globe. 

“My next steps now are getting export-ready and finding the funds to accomplish this. I have begun working with USAID Trade and they are helping me to work on my marketing which will assist me greatly in entering the South African and USA market. USAID Trade is also assisting me through networks. They have introduced me to a distributor in the USA, who I am excited to have the opportunity to work with.”

We are delighted to have contributed to the growth and development of Sue and her business through the Thrive Investor Readiness programme. We are keen to support even more startups through the various programmes that we conduct at BongoHive.