NewsWest AfricaMeet Cameroon's baby-food entrepreneur

Wed,28Jun2017

Posted on Wednesday, 12 April 2017 14:36

Meet Cameroon's baby-food entrepreneur

By Reuters

Children play on a tree swing in Yola, Nigeria, close to the Cameroon border. Friday, April 22, 2016. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP/SIPAPascaline Nande is a young Cameroonian entrepreneur who saw the baby food market dominated by imported brands and decided to provide the first commercial home-made option.

 

Branded Blesolac, the infant cereal is made from locally sourced cereals and grains like soya beans and is free of preservatives.

 

It is made by boiling and roasting soya beans which are later ground into powder.

Pascaline then mixes the soya powder with other cereals to make the baby meal.

 

She started her business five years ago to counter imported brands, which she says are generally expensive and contain preservatives.

 

While on holiday to her rural home, Pascaline met women making similar wheat cereals for their children.

When she returned to the city she tried out various recipes for her daughter and nephew and came up with her own instant cereal.

 

"From six months, breast milk is not enough to feed a baby. So when I would travel to my village, my husband noticed that the women in the village would roast wheat and would feed it to the children to help them grow. So I had an idea to use the same wheat and make something else with it and after several trials, Blesolac was born," said Pascaline.

 

The idea behind Blesolac is to help busy parents make a quick nutritious meal for babies and toddlers using ingredients that can be difficult to source and prepare.

 

Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child's life can lead to stunted growth according to the UN children's fund, UNICEF.

 

About 1.2 million of children in Cameroon have stunted growth and about 45% of child deaths are linked to under nutrition.

 

Pascaline works with various baby clinics in the city where she also introduces her products to mothers.

 

Expanding production

She sells about 150 kilogrammes of Blesolac a week, but says she would be able to process more if she had the right equipment and financing.

 

In a good month the business makes a profit of about 1,200 U.S. dollars.

 

"The challenges are many because first of all there isn't enough equipment for manufacturing. When I started selling, I was going from door to door trying to market what I was selling, which was not easy. I was packaging the product in transparent plastic bags. I was outsourcing all the equipment. It's true that things have improved but there is still a great need for equipment in order to meet demand and produce in great quantity, because there is great demand and a ready market," she said.

 

Blesolac is packed in various sizes from 1 kilogram boxes to 200 grammes sachets.

It has been certified by government authorities and is sold in stores across the country.

 

Pokam Nadege's seven-month-old baby recently started weaning and Blesolac is one of the foods in her diet.

 

"When I heard about Blesolac, I went and bought it and I tasted it and I also liked the smell. I gave it to the baby, and she liked it and she eats it with no problem," said Nadege.

 

Pascaline says she is working to incorporate other highly nutritious grains to make more cereal mix varieties and is currently researching on new tastes and textures, with sorghum, as she works on expanding production.

 



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