It’s time for African food to shine. South African entrepreneur, Sipamandla Manqele of Local Village Foods, is bringing indigenous African foods to the global market. 

Food and beverage conference Africa’s Big 7 reports that Sipamandla has a plan to introduce some of our favourite local dishes onto the world market. Her company is an ethics-driven business that aims to make African food and ingredients more accessible. She also wants to drive economic growth for others who work in the agricultural sector across Africa. 

Entrepreneurship inspired by Africa 

Sipamandla says that she is inspired by Africa and its quest for social and economic unity. Her startup was founded on a vision to create a network of vibrant local agri-preneurs across Africa, all supplying equitably sourced and sustainably grown indigenous African ingredients to the global village. Her goal is to connect ethical producers with conscious consumers. 

“Food is the currency for true connection and helps us to celebrate and appreciate the significance of our diverse traditions. It accompanies all of life’s most significant moments and plays a critical role in the social and traditional life of African cultures and their peoples. And yet at the global banquet table, African foods and ingredients, together with the continent’s diverse food traditions, remain underrepresented,” Sipamandla says.

Local Village Foods supplies indigenous foods, including Bambara groundnuts, fonio grain, tiger nut flour, teff grain, sorghum flour and moringa. And it’s part of the company’s philosophy that small-scale producers in Africa benefit, so 90% of ingredients are sourced from them in countries such as Nigeria, Malawi, Benin, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The foods are ethically sourced and traceable. 

Health benefits of indigenous food

There are also health benefits to Sipamandla’s food. It is plant-based, vegan-friendly and a healthy alternative to highly processed foods that are mass-produced. “Many people are not aware of the health benefits of traditional African foods. Many of them are considered superfoods due to their nutritional value, or ‘future-proof’ foods because they can be produced sustainably and in areas with low rainfall levels,” according to Sipamandla.

In a recent report by Knorr and WWF, 50 foods were listed as food that should be eaten more frequently because of their high nutritional value, lower impact on the planet compared to animal-based foods, cost-effectiveness, accessibility, and taste. Many of the foods that were listed are sourced and distributed by African Village Foods.

Local Food Village’s primary product portfolio 

The product portfolio includes commodities and value-added products that incorporate African indigenous ingredients, such as gluten-free flour, indigenous grains, pasta, canned foods (legumes and grain), and African superfoods. There is also a continuous drive to develop innovative food products such as organic tigernut flour, snack bars made with moringa and amaranth grain and fusilli pasta made from the moringa plant.

Its beverage offering, bissap, is a natural plant-based African drink brewed from roselle, a hibiscus plant species consumed in Western Africa. It is known by many names across Africa, including wonjo, dabileni, tsobo, zobo, or sobolo and is often enjoyed in times of gathering and celebration. Bissap’s key ingredient is called roselle, ethically sourced in West and East Africa. 

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