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Meet Orizu, entrepreneur tackling Nigeria’s malnutrition problem

Mmachukwu Orizu, founder and managing director of Mahauty Health Solutions, is one of the young entrepreneurs in Nigeria that are building phenomenal businesses focused on tackling the country’s malnutrition problems while creating jobs.

According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), malnutrition is a direct or underlying cause of 45 percent of all deaths of under-five children in Nigeria.

In a bid to help Nigeria tackle its malnutrition challenges, especially among children, the biochemist-turned -entrepreneur was inspired to establish Mahauty Health Solutions in 2016 to promote infants and children’s health in the country.

“I was increasingly worried by the number of children who came to the hospital daily and are diagnosed with conditions caused by malnutrition,” she says, while explaining her motivation.

“Through research, I realised that there was no known healthy baby food product made in Nigeria.”

She was also inspired to establish her business owing to her experience as a mother.

“When I had my daughter, I started creating recipes and feeding her with it,” she recalls.

“When people observed how healthy my daughter was, family and friends who knew the recipe I was using started making demand for it, and this led to the establishment of my company – Mahauty Health Solutions.”

She is a passionate Nigerian using organic fruits and vegetables from the country to make food products for children while building a strong nutrition community.

Her Somma’s Yummies is a 100percent natural food brand that is produced using freshly harvested grains, nuts, roots and tubers, legumes and fruits and vegetables.

To further broaden her skills, Mmachukwu took up a training course with the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and also acquired an Advance Diploma in Nutrition.

The young entrepreneur started her business with N150, 000, which she got from her personal savings. She has not taken loan from any money deposit bank.

Since starting, the business has grown tremendously and it now has six ranges of baby food products.

She has built a community of over 13,000 mothers across the continent and uses social media to provide regular advisory sessions for them to address the very problem of malnutrition in children.

Speaking on the business expansion plans, she says Mahauty wants to standardise its factory with an adjoining quality assurance laboratory.

Also, the business plans to get its products on the shelves of retail stores and outlets across major cities on the continent.

Orizu says that the constraint of getting licenses from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is the greatest challenge facing the business.

She adds that procuring of advanced equipment and machinery for the factory is other major challenge, owing to the high cost and difficult clearing process at the seaport.

The business has won several awards both within and outside the country.

In 2018, it was named the Health Innovation Company in Africa among 241 health businesses from 21 African countries by Amref Health Africa, an NGO based in Kenya.

On her advice to other entrepreneurs, she says, “Know everything there is to know about your business. Be resilient, stay determined and committed to what you do. Make mistakes, learn from them and allow yourself to grow.”

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