Mushroom cultivator, Bernadette Phiri
Bernadette Phiri inspires many other Zambian women to escape poverty. She expanded her Zambian oyster mushroom cultivation business.
The video below was taken at the beginning of the 1 year mentoring process.
Expert Le Tran
Mrs. Bernadette Phiri and Jacana are very happy with the commitment of “E-volunteer” Miss Le Tran. She works from Arizona, USA. Have a look at other work of her at: http://www.letran.design.
Expert Chris & Stéphane
Mr. Chris Holtslag & Stéphane Poirié manage a mushroom farm in Helsinki, Finland. They help Bernadette with online support and advice. Have a look at their inspiriting web-site www.helsieni.fi
Bernadette Phiri started her Mushroom growing business 8 years ago, after attending an extensive training on how to grow mushroom. This training was conducted by the Department of Agriculture, University of Zambia. Of all the people trained in the district she is the only one that has survived and continued in this business. Bernadette is a widow with 6 children and 2 grand children. Jacana believes Bernadette is an enthusiastic and motivated entrepreneur who is ready to grow and become a role model for many women in the area.
Bernadette was selected for one year guidance by Jacana and she was performing well. She created her own logo, business cards and label for her mushrooms. She was also guided by Chris Holtslag and she learned a lot more about oyster mushroom growing.
In 2019, Jacana asked Bernadette to train a group of 7 potential mushroom growers. Jacana trained her and she did a wonderful job.
Jacana trained Bernadette in training skills. She trained a group of 7 people in oyster mushroom growing. The first morning she taught the group all the theory about growing mushrooms and in the afternoon they made substrate in a hygienic way and filled a 5kg bag with substrate and spawn. After the training Bernadette guided the mushroom growers at their mushroom houses.
Unfortunately no water was found at Bernadette’s plot. With a ground water recharge system we keep on trying.
Bernadette worked very hard to fill her mushroom house with small bags. At this moment she has a very good yield and many mushrooms are shooting. She wants to extend her space.
Osward drilled at Bernadette’s place high in the mountain where no truck or heavy drilling machine can come.
The mushrooms in the smaller bags are growing well. This means she can grow much more in the same amount of space. She started selling them to the customers.
- The labels are finished and ready for use.
Bernadette started growing mushrooms with smaller bags. With the help from Jacana she sealed bigger bags into smaller once. This means that she needs less substrate to grow the mushrooms and one bag needs less space in her mushroom house.
- Chris advised Bernadette to watch a video of mushroom growing project in Tanzania. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OIUtiCDVHs&feature=youtu.be. After watching this video Bernadette decided to try growing her mushrooms in smaller bags. She ordered big plastic bags from Lusaka and with a sealing machine she made smaller bags. And now hoping that it works, because she can staple the bags, meaning that she can grow more mushrooms.
- We brought new seeds for Bernadette from Lusaka University.
- Bernadette is revising the labels, Le Tran is changing them.
- Bernadette is still counting the harvest from the first 20 bags.
- She had some questions about the color changing of the Mushrooms and the thickness of the stem. We send an email to Chris Holtslag and he gave immediately a good answer and Bernadette can continue.
- Le Tran sent draft designs for the labels and the business card. Bernadette choose the colour, font type, drawings etc. out of the different examples. Le Tran will send the final design.
- Bernadette had a Skype meeting with Chris Holtslag, Co-founder/Managing partner at Helsieni (https://www.helsieni.fi/fi/etusivu/). Chris is growing oyster mushrooms in Helsinki, Finland and answered some questions from Bernadette. Questions about: how to avoid diseases, how to control temperature, moisture and CO2, what kind of substrate to use, how to create a constant production, packaging and more things. Some questions could not immediately be answered by Chris, without seeing some pictures of how she grows the mushrooms. Jacana made some pictures and sent them to Chris so that he can see them together with his companion. He will come back with some answers by Email.
- Bernadette made a plan for continuously production of mushrooms. She started this month by planting 20 new bags, after a month she is planting another 20 and so on. She will keep records of the harvest of every bag and with this information she can plan the production line in a better way.
- Bernadette went together with Dinie to Protea Hotel, one of the upgraded hotels from Chipata, to find out if they want to buy the mushrooms in future. The manager of the kitchen was very pleased to see the good quality of Bernadette’s mushrooms. He is willing to buy them when they have conferences.
- A driling team started to drill a borehole near to her mushroom house. The drillers could manually drill up to 9 meters, but unfortunately no water was found. In March when Jacana has a technical training the borehole will be deepened with another drilling method.
- Skype meeting with Le Tran. Le Tran is a designer from USA who wants to help Bernadette in designing labels and logo for the business.
- Dinie and Bernadette got some homework from Le Tran to go to town and look for packaging materials, sizes, examples of mushroom packages at Shoprite and SPAR and make pictures of food with mushrooms.
- Bernadette has a name for her business: “Dettes Hill Farm”.
At this moment (December 2016), Bernadette want to expand her business by growing her market network, from individuals to shopping malls, Shop rite and Lodges. Recently Jacana asked her to conduct a test – supply to SPAR Supermarket and see if they would welcome the product. The test has been a success and more institutions have shown interest in her product. For this reason, she wants Jacana to guide her in financial management, packaging, logo design and book keeping. Furthermore, she has asked Jacana if they can provide her with water, so that she can continue her business all year round, without water challenges.
Jacana wants to guide her in expanding her business successfully and possibly provide a water pump at her premise. However, for Jacana to do this we need your financial help. Every small amount is more than welcome.
Thank you on behalf of Bernadette Phiri!
Click here to learn how to read a Lean Canvas Business model.
Jacana will support Bernadette in:
- Implementing a book keeping system
- Financial planning
- Logo designs and packaging of her Mushroom
- Provide her with access to water