Crush­ing fruits for a health­ier busi­ness

Vuk'uzenzele - - Front Page - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

BY CASHING in on the healthy eat­ing cul­ture two KwaZulu-Natal sib­lings have de­vel­oped an agro­pro­cess­ing busi­ness.

Two uMlazi sis­ters are show­ing that fast food can be healthy, with their range of fruit sal­ads, pre­pared veg and smooth­ies.

In their early 30s, Lona Mn­guni and Lisa Mthethwa own Fru­tee Bel­liez, which sup­plies fresh fruit salad, smooth­ies and veg­eta­bles di­rectly to cus­tomers, ho­tels and the cater­ing in­dus­try in Dur­ban KwaZulu-Natal.

“We started off by sell­ing fresh fruit salad, made from five dif­fer­ent fruits, in 250ml cups in schools around uMlazi. The mis­sion was to re­duce the learn­ers’ un­healthy con­sump­tion of vetkoek,” said Mthethwa.

The sales were mar­ginal, how­ever, and it was only when the sis­ters joined eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s women em­pow­er­ment pro­gramme that they were able to take their busi­ness to the next level – sup­ply­ing fruit salad to cater­ers for wed­dings and fu­ner­als.

“We ap­proached cater­ing com­pa­nies, gave them sam­ples, and some placed or­ders in­stantly. Cater­ers also wanted pre­pared veg­eta­bles be­cause they don’t have time to peel and chop and we de­cided to do that as well. At first it was dif­fi­cult be­cause ev­ery­thing was man­ual and if we had two or­ders on the same day, we had to sac­ri­fice sleep­ing and do the job overnight,” she said.

Fru­tee Bel­liez has grown from a home en­ter­prise to an estab­lished busi­ness with an in­dus­trial kitchen in Wa­ter­fall, five per­ma­nent em­ploy­ees and a steady flow of or­ders. The sis­ters have bought big ma­chines to peel veg­eta­bles and a big blender for smooth­ies.

Fru­tee Bel­liez won the young agro-pro­ces­sor cat­e­gory of the KZN Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s Fe­male Farmer of the Year awards in 2010, as well as the pro­vin­cial leg of the SAB Kick­start en­trepreneur­ship pro­gramme in 2011. It came se­cond in the Daim­ler Fleet Man­age­ment Busi­ness Plan com­pe­ti­tion in the same year and this year, won R125 000 in the KZN Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture Fe­male Awards: Best En­tre­pre­neur Pro­ces­sor.

The sis­ters plan on open­ing a re­tail store in the fu­ture.

Fru­tee Bel­liez owened by Lona Mn­guni and her sis­ter Lisa Mthethwa sup­ply fresh fruit salad, smooth­ies and veg­eta­bles to cus­tomers.

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