Frutee Belliez is slowly establishing itself as one of the most successful women-owned businesses within the agro-processing sector particularly in KwaZulu-Natal where it is currently based. The business specialises in processing fruits and vegetables which it supplies to industrial kitchens and catering companies. The fruits and vegetables are processed into a variety of products such as fruits salads, smoothies, freshly squeezed juices including herbal natural tonics.
Frutee Belliez was founded in 2010 by two young ambitious sisters Mbaliyethu (Lisa) Mthethwa and Masibonge (Lona) Mnguni. It won them several accolades including the ‘Processor’ category in the ‘Top Young Female Entrepreneurs’ sponsored by the KwaZulu-Natal’s department of agriculture, environmental affairs and rural development.
Best qualified for the job
The pair says they want to use their business to create awareness and promote the importance of healthy eating habits and lifestyle. To achieve this they make sure they practise and maintain high standards in terms of how they prepare and deliver their produce to their growing client base. Not only are they passionate entrepreneurs but they are also adequately qualified to run the business. Miss Mthethwa boasts a degree in business management and marketing while Mnguni has a diploma in biotechnology.
Their interest in business dates back to their early school days. For instance, Miss Mthethwa used to sell sweets to make extra money to assist her mother. They also sold cards with inspirational messages at church to raise funds for Sunday meals. Over and above running Frutee Belliez, they also make and sell hair accessories, hand crocheted products and natural hair products.
Creating job opportunities for the youth
Frutee Belliez, according to the pair, was inspired by their lived experience and observation of their own neighbourhood. For instance, in 2007 when they ran an outfit called ‘God is Good’ they used to feed homeless people and every one of them would ask them for a job. It dawned on them that there was a need to start an initiative that could create jobs for their community and the country. Currently, they are a team of three permanent staff but hope to accommodate more young people as the business grows.
In addition, Mthethwa and Mnguni also realised the widespread lack of nutrition which has seen an increasing number of people including school kids getting obese. They then decided to sell fruit salads to school learners as a way of promoting healthy living among the youths. They say what sets their business apart from others is the small size of their business which makes it not only agile but also enables them to pay close attention to every detail. They are also hands-on when it comes to sourcing their produce and processing them to ensure that the final product is of superior quality. They are also an ambitious and dynamic team who are always looking for creative and innovative ways to offer best service to their clients.
Their long term wish and plan is to own their own farm so that they can grow and process their own produce and export them. They also want to grow and franchise Frutee Belliez into a competitive global brand. They say what fulfils them is seeing positive feedback from their clients. Their advice to young emerging is:
- Don’t be afraid to start. Don’t limit yourself. Try to have multiple streams of income.
- Believe in yourself.
- There will be moments where the business will not go well, always remember why you started and that will keep you going.
- Don’t be afraid to fail, that’s how we learn and improve our game.
- Whilst you focus on your business, your life is also very important, so learn to strike a balance and do not neglect the things that mean the most to you.