Why A Zambian Lawyer Quit Her Job To Become Africa’s Noodle Queen

Written by Staff

From Malaysia Chronicle

Until recently, Africa was a step behind much of the world, with only a few imported brands available.

Zambian entrepreneur Monica Musonda saw an opportunity to change the fortunes of her country using the humble snack.

Africa spends $36 billion a year on importing food, yet it has 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, according to the World Bank. Musonda noticed that wheat was only used to make bread, and some biscuits, with much of the country’s large crop exported.

She quit her job as a lawyer and started Java Foods, aiming to provide affordable nutrition to Africa.

“Agriculture’s where the potential is,” she told the World Economic Forum Africa Summit in Cape Town last week. Her eeZee Instant Noodles are now Zambia’s biggest-selling brand and growing in popularity across the continent.

The noodles sell for just two kwacha ($0.00037), offering young people an affordable and convenient meal.

It’s a move that would delight the Japanese inventor of instant noodles, Momofuku Ando, who created the product in the hope of ending world hunger.

Ando, who died in 2007, came up with the idea in the years after World War II, when food shortages plagued Japan. In his biography, he said he was inspired when he saw a long line of people in war-ravaged Osaka waiting to buy steaming noodles at a black market stall. “Peace prevails when food suffices,” he said.

He created the perfect tasty, non-perishable, economical and safe post-war food option, later turning to the problem of creating space noodles for astronauts. Japanese people recently voted noodles one of their best exports.

Musonda decided to follow his lead to develop Africa’s economy after she moved to Nigeria to work for a law firm in 2008. “What inspired me the most about Nigeriawas the entrepreneurial spirit — the fact that so many young people are taking the leap and working for themselves,” she told How We Made It In Africa.

“They are not afraid to risk everything for what they believe in. I had been going back and forth to Zambia and one thing I noticed was that the economy was still dominated by foreign companies despite the opening up of the market.”

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