Her mission is clearly defined; to end food poverty in DR Congo.
Benedict Mundele is a 21-year-old Congolese entrepreneur who is determined to make a change in her country. She is the founder of Surprise Tropicale, an organic local food canteen and catering company that aims to promote a sustainable and healthy lifestyle in her community in the capital Kinshasa.
While researching food produced in tropical environments, she discovered that her dear country imported so much food despite the resources available to produce her own food. Furthermore, a lot of the food it does produce gets exported cheaply, processed in other countries, and sold back to the country at more expensive prices. And so she took the initiative to create something different and sustainable in her community, to engender change.
Benedict has always had an entrepreneurial pull. At 16, she founded Surprise Tropicale, which began by supplying breakfast to members of the Kuvuna Foundation, an organization dedicated to sustainable development, leadership development, and support for entrepreneurs.
Today, her little startup has grown into a huge venture. The company currently produces its own organic snacks and meals, such as chips made from coconut or ginger. The young entrepreneur also runs her own take-away outlet, and supplies produce to nearby shops. She only sells food produced locally and is hoping to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Like most other entrepreneurs, Benedict has her share of challenges. She insists that eventhough she has covered a long mile in business, she still has a longer journey ahead. One of her major challenges is a lack of consumer trust in locally-produced food and products.
“It’s difficult. In the DRC, and even across the rest of Africa, people think good things come from outside the continent. They don’t realise what we can create here can be even better. And it’s difficult to change that mentality.”
Another challenge is getting consumers to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Despite her efforts to produce and sell healthy food, most of her customers still prefer less-healthy meals and sweets from her fast-food outlet. To generate revenue, she began to produce and sell them. And for this, Benedict believes her take-away is partly a failure, as it does not allow her to reach her objective of promoting health food.
The social communication student has been named one of the promising young World Economic Forum (WEF) ‘Global Shapers’ and was selected to attend the WEF on Africa, held in Nigeria, last year. Her entrepreneurial goal and efforts led to her selection as an Anzisha prize finalist last year, a competition that recognises young Africans who are engendering positive change in their community through entrepreneurship.
She encourages other young entrepreneurs to maximize the many unexploited opportunities in Africa and stop waiting for support from western countries.
“I want young people to change their thinking and not to believe that it is better overseas. Because in the DRC and Africa there are more opportunities than anywhere else. It just needs hard work and concentration to capture these opportunities, and ultimately transform the continent.”