Thirty-three-year-old entrepreneur, Mana Leonia Lemos, from Dili has been interested in organic farming since she was a child. But when pursuing her master’s degree in the food sector while working in the UK she spotted that this could be a business opportunity and a chance of providing jobs for her fellow Timorese.
Leonia saved funds while working in the UK and when she returned to Timor-Leste in 2018, she to set up her nutrition consultancy and organic food business, called Mirtejes-F, to encourage Timorese to eat a healthier diet and provide job opportunities to young Timorese.
Starting up an organic food business in Dili was not easy. Instant food options are both cheap and popular in Timor-Leste and there is a general lack of awareness of the health benefits of organic food.
Initially Leonia struggled to find customers, but by marketing herself through social media and participating in IADE’s entrepreneur competition, she widened her networks whilst getting to know more about her target customers and potential business partners.
Mana Leonia also participated in several local food expo’s to exhibit her dried fruit products that enable her to turn her idea to a lucrative business providing jobs for more than twenty people. She named her business after her lucky name called
In the future Mana Leonia plans to train youth in the municipalities and help encourage women’s participation in food and agricultural business sector.
She believes that young people in Timor-Leste can start their own business, they just need to think innovatively and be brave in making decision.
“I want to encourage young Timorese, especially young women, to be brave and set up businesses. ”