"I grew up raised by two parents who were farmers, but as I grew up, I hated farming." That's one of the first things I heard as I met with Ntuba Masena, the owner of a fruit and vegetable drying business in Lesotho. Ntuba remembered spending long days plowing the fields with her parents, and as a result, agriculture was the last thing on her mind. It's safe to say that it has been an unusual journey for the 61-year-old retired nurse who had reinvented herself as an entrepreneur and small business owner.
As Ntuba was coming into retirement and looking for additional sources of income, she reluctantly attended a farming workshop - she confessed being mostly interested in getting out of her house - and that's where she was introduced to the concept of fruit and vegetable drying. The idea of starting a value-added business appealed to her, so she bought a few bags of apples, a fruit slicer and began her entrepreneurship journey.
She was able to expand her business thanks to a grant from the Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP), which is supported by the World Bank. Through the SADP, 55,000 farmers in Lesotho like Ntuba have applied for and won public grants that have helped them increase their productivity and have better access to markets.
Today, Ntuba's business dries and packages everything from apples and peaches to spinach and sweet potatoes. She now employs seven people including her youngest daughter who just graduated from college.