It’s through tough times that many people discover their own strength and potential, and Annet K. Muhoozi has seen this. She hadn’t planned to start a vegetable solution company. The 36-year-old discovered she was anaemic after delivering her second child. Doctors advised her to drink beetroot juice as it is an excellent source of iron and vitamin C, which are considered good for anaemia. She was staying with her mother in-law at the time, and making the beetroot juice on a daily basis was tiresome and costly. Muhoozi makes ready-to-consume powder from beetroots and carrots. Photos/Courtesy With a Bachelor’s degree in food science and technology, Muhoozi thought about finding a solution for the many people in the same situation. She thought of how to supply beetroot to the market, however, in ready-to-use form, so that anyone at any time can take in the benefits of the healthy vegetable. The launch of an idea “In 2013, I legally registered my business with RDB and self-funded a pilot study with my last salary pay from my five-month job contract as a technical assistant, for an efficacy study on bio fortified beans in Butare University on iron for adolescent girls,” she says. Muhoozi is now the founder and director of Veget Solutions (VS) Ltd, in Gasabo District. With the pilot study, Muhoozi identified local and simple techniques of using beetroot, but unfortunately hit a setback due to reduced capital and low capacity equipment. She resumed in 2019 when she acquired a personal loan and bought the main equipment she needed to proceed with the business. The company manufactures and processes vegetables such as beetroot and carrots into ready-to-use powder. This, she says, doesn’t only preserve the vegetables, it is very healthy. In March 2020, the entrepreneur launched her first product made out of beetroot known as “BeeTinO” on the market, and later “CaroTinO”, made out of carrots. She hopes to launch three more products by July as she waits for more equipment that will be available by the end of May. Muhoozi says the beetroot powder can be added with food colorants and bakery products, among other things, and is rich in iron, vitamins C, E, D, K, B, zinc and calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. “The beetroot powder has various health benefits, for example, it minimises anaemia, keeps blood pressure in check, fights inflammation, improves digestive health, helps in losing weight, boosts brain health, enhances athletic performance and so forth,” Muhoozi notes. “CaroTinO”, she says, is best used when blended in soups, porridge, herbal tea, salads, food colorants, and bakery products. The carrot powder is rich in vitamins A, C, K, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and zinc. In addition to that, the carrot powder, she believes, can improve eye health, boost immunity, improve skin health, protect the liver, provide blood sugar control, and an anti-oxidation to fight free radicals. Challenges Like any business, Muhoozi’s journey hasn’t been smooth. Although her intention was to be unique and provide nutritional products, it is a very expensive business. She has been struggling over the years, but the idea is to take it step-by-step. She is not about to lose hope and is optimistic, going by the mantra ‘challenges make people strong’. Muhoozi is happy that she receives feedback that enables her to grow. And positive comments keep her going. Being a mother of four, it’s sometimes hard to put money together for the business and home. She, however, gives recognition to her husband who, she says, was the only one who saw her dream and vision and offered support. When she started, Muhoozi’s target was beetroot, but after launching it, customers’ also requested for carrots due to high post-harvest losses in the market. And this, she considered. She still requires better quality equipment to make the powder even better. Vision She currently supplies her products to supermarkets such as Deluxe Supermarket in Kimironko and Shalom Supermarket, among others, and hopes to go beyond Kigali as her company grows. Muhoozi is looking forward to supplying to least 50 per cent of the supermarkets and hotels in Kigali by 2022. She is also confident that she will employ more workers as soon as she gets better machines. Her vision is to manufacture and promote healthy vegetable powders, and nurture the connection between food, nature and people.