Amazi was officially founded in April 2016, but has been a dream for years. After studying in Uganda, the founder, Renee, was shocked by the high degree of entrepreneurship, but surprised by the endless piles of tomatoes, plantains, bananas going to waste- There was a lack of business growth, employment opportunities, and variety in product offerings.
Renee was inspired by Issues of competition, huge food waste, and unemployment rates. She wanted to add value to natural resources – by providing growth avenues for entrepreneurs, the unemployed, and farmers.
Katie heard Renee speak at the DC Start Up week a few weeks ago and thought your story was incredible. Your company makes plantain chips. For any listeners who don’t know what a plantain chip is- they look like a larger banana and you cut them to look like a chip.
[3:47] Let’s hear a bit about Amazi – what is a plantain chip?
· Plantain chips are unique – dried and roasted
· Looks like a smaller banana, Uganda known as the banana republic
[5:11] So Renee, tell our Chainers a bit about yourself outside of Amazi
· Grew up in DC area
· Holds a double major in Economics
· Teaches Yoga and fan of cooking
[6:23] You got the idea for Amazi because you saw such stagnated growth in Uganda, what were your first steps? Did you have a business plan? Or just dive in making plantain chips?
· Studied some business books and templates
· No formal plan initially as unsure of point of entry
· Ended up jumping on a plane when lease was ending and gave herself 3 months
[7:29] What was the scariest entrepreneurial step that you had to make?
· Going wasn’t the scariest part, it was coming back and deciding to go with it.
[8:26] Amazi- Where did you come up with the name?
· Uganda word means water
[9:37] Where would you say you spend most of your time? The US or Uganda? How do the two countries compare?
· Fully based in the US
· Occasionally visits Uganda and is situated as the market connector
· Did lots of work from the ground up like organizing the farmers markets
· Two countries are very different – Uganda is the “Pearl of Africa”, every day is a hustle.
[13:12] How do you handle making plantain chips in Uganda but selling them all over the DC Metro area?
· Established her own process
· Get ready to get hands dirty – spend more time on the ground
· Learn to understand culture of the country you are doing business with
[14:54] Where are some places people can buy and tryout your chips?
· Amazon listing will be back in 2018
· Currently 6 Dean & DeLuca locations across the country
· Check out find us page on amazi website.
[15:46] What are your next ideas to help grow Amazi?
· 2 new product lines
· Revamp of branding
· Hiring a team
· Co-packing and larger distribution
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Value Link Round
[17:25] Why do people fail?
· So they can appreciate success when it happens
[18:33] What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
· Create an exit strategy for yourself – transition role into the role you want to be in.
[19:3] What is your favorite word or quote?
· Word: Generate – idea of giving to get
[19:37] What last parting advice do you have for someone trying to start a business?
· Practicing non attachment and curiosity