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Podcast with Bridget Mbeng - Discussion on empowering women in Cameroon
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Our Story

Bridget Mbu Mbeng was on one of her assignments as an Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in Coatsville Pennsylvania, when out of curiosity she stumbled upon a mushroom farm in Kennett Square; that has become her life for the past 9 years.

 

Bridget drove through Kennett Square regularly, on her way from work. She always wondered, "why is smoke coming out of those houses?" Those smoking houses were a sight similar to the ones she had seen in her homestead back in Africa! She knew that in America, people do not usually cook with firewood in their homes. It was out of this curiosity, she drove to one of the houses to inquire about the smoke. Bridget was welcomed into a room for mushroom cultivation. That day changed her life forever!

  

To her astonishment, she saw a vast farm of mushrooms being cultivated in a controlled environment; whilst back in her native country Cameroon, you can only witness this in wild forests. She was drawn in simple awe! And just like that, her curiosity for the smoke coming from the houses transformed into an interest in the world of mushroom farming!

This fascination with mushrooms became Bridget’s life. From that point on she would eat, breath, sleep, talk, only of mushrooms! This placed her on a path of an amazing story.

 

Bridget met Eric Toedter, who introduced her into the world of mushroom farming and unravels the mystery of mushroom cultivation. It was Eric Toedter who encouraged her to attend the Mushroom Short Course. Bridget attended the Mushroom Short Course, hosted by Penn State University. 

 

It was at this short course, that Bridget met Emmie Warnstrom-Bishop, a Masters student in Penn State University studying Mycology. It was Emmie that made the mushroom cultivation process achievable by breaking it down for Bridget. With this passion and newfound knowledge Bridget decided to start a Mushroom Farm in Cameroon.

 

With $8,000 Bridget enthusiastically embarked on a mission to economically empower the Cameroonian women in her farming community. The Mbeng Adio Mushroom Farm Project is born! In 7 years, MAMF has trained 1500 women on the process of mushroom cultivation. These women’s lives are gradually transformed.

 

Mbeng Adio Mushroom Farm is registered as a Common Initiative Group in 2012. Bridgets Mushroom Farm starts competing in Local Agricultural Trade Shows where she wins many awards. With this visibility, the Government of Cameroon recognizes MAMF as the Largest Producer of Mushrooms in Cameroon and Central Africa. This accomplishment was unkown to Bridget herself.

 

David Iaconi was the Mushroom Consultant integral to Bridget’s interest in mushroom cultivation and production for her MAMF Project. David was also instrumental in the presentation of MAMF Project in ‘The African Diaspora Marketplace Competition, Washington DC’.

 

In 2015 Bridget won 'The African Diaspora Marketplace Competition' hosted by USAID and Western Union, which opened the opportunity for Mbeng Adio Mushroom Farm to connect directly with International buyers in the Global marketplace.