The Entrepreneur

Encounter with Fatou Ceesay Jarjue, Founder & CEO of Snack Heaven

Mrs Fatou Ceesay Jarjue

Mrs. Fatou Ceesay Jarjue is the founder and CEO of Snack Heaven formerly Fruitveg. She started her own business enterprise called Fruitveg in 2018 which was later changed to Snack Heaven.

Mrs Jarjue is a Chartered Procurement and Supply Chain professional and is currently working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in The Gambia.

Mrs Jarjue is LTN’s guest for The Entrepreneur Column this week and below is the full conversation.

  1. Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Fatou Ceesay Jarjue, founder and CEO of Snack Heaven formerly Fruitveg. An agribusiness that processes fruits and vegetables into ready-to-go natural and healthy snacks for everyone. The company was founded in 2018 and since then has created a niche for itself. Our products include plantain chips, dried mango, freeze-dried papaya, avocado powder, apple and coconut chew, etc.

2. Tell us about your academic background and employment record.

A chartered procurement and supply chain professional with more than ten years of experience in both the public and humanitarian sectors. Worked with The Gambia Tourism Board for 10 years and currently working with the UN Migration Agency (IOM).

3. How did the idea for your business come about?

I have always had a passion for business and started by going to Senegal to buy materials for resale. My current business idea came when I was studying in Kenya and saw how people sell snacks along the roadside. When I came back in 2017 I started to venture into the business by making Plaintain chips and giving them to friends and family. We officially started in 2018 during the GCCI trade fair under the Youth Empowerment project sponsored youth pavilion.

4. What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

The sustainable business solution to post-harvest losses faced by farmers.

5. How did you come up with the name for your company?

Fruitveg as we are engaged in fruit and vegetable processing. Snack Heaven idea from a former mentor which means processing ready-to-go food. 

6. How did you raise funding for your business?

Personal saving and family support and last year a had a loan from the SDF youth Revolving Fund for business expansion. 

7. How do you build a successful customer base?

Knowing your customers’ needs and their expectations and always be consistent with your product offering. Allaying bring innovative new products and varieties to them. Satisfying every customer with our healthy natural snacks.

8. How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?

Social media( mostly Facebook) customer referrals as we get a lot of that, B2B  and trade shows and exhibitions.

9.  How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

It’s been a healthy balance as my family supports and believes in my business ideas and what I do. 

10. What motivates you?

Personal and Customer satisfaction, empowering others by creating employment and challenging myself with new product ideas.

11. How do you generate new ideas?

Analyzing trends in the global dried sector and see where we can improve on our offering but also what our competitors are doing and innovate our customers with innovative products.

12. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

The global economic crisis that is affecting personal income earnings and the impact of climate change and how it is affecting our agricultural sector e.g. this year’s mango season is not as good as last year.

13. How do you define success?

Business growth and increased market and customer base, sustainable impact on farmers and the community we work with, and the ability to lead and be an inspiration to others.

14. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Ahhh I think no. All you need is to set your own goals, and rules and determine to create your own success story through diligence, hardworking and dedication.

15. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?   

Having people looking up to you and being their source of motivation.

16. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Knowing that customers are satisfied with what you do and Gambians are supporting and uplifting each other. Overcoming challenges and breaking barriers.

17. What is your assessment of the country’s current economic situation?

I think there is a need to focus on agriculture and create initiatives that support and promote local produce but also protect them from imported goods. We need to prioritize agriculture for sustainable development.

18. How do you see LamToro’s coming into the Gambian media fraternity?

It will bring more competition and create the need for fact-checking and accountability. 

19.  Any final message?

Thank you and I think it’s a great initiative focusing on entrepreneurship in The Gambia.

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