Economic growth through tomato vines


Woman entrepreneur

Tanzania is known for many things, but one that might come as a surprise is the country’s fine wine market. One young woman with an entrepreneurial spirit, is now part of this growing industry.

When Angelina Sylvester Hillu first came to Iranga, Tanzania in 2020 for a government project, she had ideas about starting her own business. After trying unsuccessfully to sell fresh produce door-to-door, Angelina saw an opportunity to switch to another industry.  At 27, she made the bold decision to start her own wine business, using tomatoes.

Wine is commonly made from grapes in North America but can be produced with other fruits such as tomatoes. There is an abundance of tomatoes in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands that are not sold to grocery stores and are ideal for wine production.

Although the fruit is one of the most produced products in Tanzania, about 40 per cent of the harvest is lost every year. Many small- scale farmers lack access to electricity and proper refrigeration to keep their fruits and vegetables fresh for extended periods of time after harvest. Tomatoes that would otherwise be wasted, are repurposed into wine. The market for this wine now gives Angelina a stable income.

In February 2021, Angelina was introduced to Cuso International partner, the Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO), the organization promotes sustainable industries in Tanzania. With SIDO’s help, Angelina was able to gain access to equipment and other resources so she could develop her product. “They taught me how to present my wine, how to make good connections with the famers, how to sell my wine and how to test it.,” Angelina said.  “They taught me everything.”  Tanzanian woman entrepreneur

“I was so excited to see and use the machines, it was a dream come true,” she said.

She has since been able to purchase her own equipment and now employs other young women in her business.

“Through my business I hope to have an impact on my community,” she said. “I want to grow to help other women and entrepreneurs.”