As part of the activities related to the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme, SANBio is profiling female bioscientists, bioentrepreneurs their organisations working in the bioinnovation space.
Molisa-ea-Molemo Caregivers Association is a women’s association started in 2010 in Lesotho with the sole intention of helping orphans and vulnerable members of the community. At the time the activities of the association were financed from the partners’ personal savings. With time the World Division project (Lenkoane ADP) ventured in and offered financial assistance. This gave way to the production of Lekhala Petroleum jelly which was a product made out of locally available aloe vera. Most of the profits made from this project were conveyed to orphanages.
As the years progressed there was a noticeable growth of the association because they were attracting a lot of funding from private organisations. From what started as a group of women with just similar interests – but no funds – was born also the Fruit Drying project which became a part of the association’s business plan. In 2015 the fruit drying project received solar dryers from the Ministry of Agriculture, although there were initially operational and procurement shortcomings. However, the project has since been successfully producing dried fruits (such as peaches, apples, pears, banana, apricot and plums). The project has also evolved to incorporate vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, carrots and green peas. The main benefit of drying agriproducts is that their shelf live is extended; thus, even when the fruit is out of its season, it can be stored for consumption a considerable time.
Although the project has been successful, the main challenge faced is in the storage of fresh fruits before they can be processed; spoilage has led to post-harvest losses. Another challenge is posed by the rainy or cloudy days when there is little or no sun light, since the drying machines the association has are solar operated. Despite these setbacks, the project has successfully put 12 students through high school for the year 2017 which marks a huge milestone for the associates.
Looking ahead, the partners aspire to own a firm with different departments as a means of scaling up their production. The project’s spokesperson and partner Mrs Khanare encourages other women to work together and address problems collaboratively; she notes that this way it is even easier to attract funders.