Women Entrepreneurs in Cameroon Cultivate Mushrooms and Their Destinies
"Somewhere from 70-90 percent of the women in Cameroon are the breadwinners of the family. Economically, they have the burden to feed their family, clothe their family and make opportunities for their families," according to Bridget Mbu Mbeng, Founder of MAMF Outreach Initiative. MAMF is an agricultural cooperative that partners with women in Cameroon to grow and sell mushrooms.
In a podcast interview for journalists, Ms. Bridget discusses how MAMF is working to empower the women of Cameroon and provide a sustainable solution, "I started this organization 10 years ago because I am from this grassroots population, so I know their struggles and their hard work." says Ms. Bridget. "I wanted to be able to help this population to help themselves and help their children."
These sustainable mushroom farms are an entrepreneurial endeavor that provide economic empowerment for the women as well as the means to provide for their families. Ms. Bridget has grown MAMF's agricultural cooperative through a simple premise. "If a woman can produce 50 kilos of mushrooms she cannot consume all. She might consume 5 or 10, and then sell the rest which would be able to help her buy her needs like soap, oil, or clothes on her back and shoes for her children to go to school - and be able to send her children to school," says Ms. Bridget. "
The transformation of these women into empowered entrepreneurs is essential to MAMF’s growing business. "I want them to be entrepreneurs” says Ms. Bridget. To date MAMF has trained over 1,500 women in Cameroon and has 40 partners, some of whom are averaging harvests of 200-250 kilos of mushrooms per month. The mission is to expand the enterprise throughout the region and invest in further infrastructure that will increase the production yields.
MAMF has noted a growing consumer interest in Cameroon. Just across the Cameroonian border Nigeria has expressed interest in importing mushrooms from MAMF. Beyond the African market, MAMF has plans to expand into China, which is the largest consumer of mushrooms in the world.
In order to meet market demand, MAMF must invest to scale up their production operations."The problem we currently have is that the market is growing. We struggle to keep up with demand. We are looking for investment capital to increase our seed production, first and foremost," says Ms. Bridget.
This month, MAMF plans to build its first central farming facility to address the needs for increased production and quality control. "The role of the central facility is to introduce solar panels to these mushroom farming communities that lack electricity," Ms. Bridget explains. Solar panels will supply the electricity needed to maintain mushrooms at a controlled temperature year round so farmers can safely store seeds and continue to produce crops throughout the year.
You can learn more about their mission, investment opportunities and their crowdfunding campaign supporting their first central farming facility.