Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ana Castelbranco is the founder of Kamarta, a brand of national food products in Angola. Two years ago, after she returned home from working in London for seven years, Ana realized that her home country didn’t have any local food products being sold at their markets. When she tried to sell her mom’s homemade chili to some local markets, she saw the need for a wider variety of products.

Today, Kamarta features 11 delicious products that are all hand-made in Angola and have no preservatives or dyes. It is her hope to bring the flavor of her land to consumers around the country. Their products are currently available through ten different local super markets and their chain locations. Kamarta currently employs nine people.

In addition to their tasty treats, the company also offers a focus on community. The products are a direct result of Ana’s established relationships with local suppliers and farmers. On the Kamarta website, the company also lists recipes for consumers to help them use the products in a variety of ways.

As a women business owner in her country, Ana has her own struggles. While the majority of market owners, distributors, and business owners in her country are males, she often feels as though they overlook her as a business leader. However, Ana doesn’t let that stop her. Rather, she sees it as an opportunity to be an advocate for all women leaders.

There are many other challenges Ana faces on a daily basis as an entrepreneur. To start with, her country is in the middle of an economic crisis which causes fluctuation in the value of their currency. Another struggle, is the language. Well Angola’s native language is Portuguese, its neighboring countries all have a native language of English. This has made it hard for Kamarta to expand its reach.

As the Fellowship program is wrapping up this week, Ana is happy to take the lessons she has learned here in Iowa and take them back to Angola and apply them to her Kamarta business practices. Although she was a bit apprehensive about coming to Iowa at first, she has been pleasantly surprised at how the state is “so much more than just corn,” as her initial Google search had suggested. She has enjoyed the sense of community that there is here in Iowa.

Ana’s advice for entrepreneurs is to not waste any time. The time you think about if you should do something is really just time you could be actually putting your ideas into action.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship program is run by the Institute for International Business, a partnership between Tippie College of Business and the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa. Click here to find out more about this program.