Alex Rose-Innes

Twenty-year-old Ian Khonje from Malawi, proved that adversity could be a positive driving force. During a university hiatus in his country as a result of continued protests, he was forced to stay at home. It was during this time he realised that with food security a major concern on the African continent, he needed to do his part to provide a solution.

For thousands of years, the fruit of the Baobab tree had provided various resources for food and drink to the animals and peoples of Africa. Once again, through the enterprising spirit and vision of a young man, these versatile fruits became the mainstay of a product that is not seasonal, but available at all times and Ian Khonje Food Processors and Malambe Jam became a reality.

The fruit of the Baobab tree, known as Malambe in Malawi, saw Khonje, processing and micro franchising this natural product to produce a brand which had quickly gained popularity. In one year, from only producing 10 jars of the jam, his business now sells more than 2000. At the same time, this young man was selected as one of the Top 20 finalists of a prestigious international award.

The 100% natural jam is produced from a unique blend of Malambe, natural sweeteners and lemon and as Khonje says, “with lots of Malawian love.” The Baobab fruit is packed with many nutrients and minerals, rich in vitamin C and a host of other essentials, which is why it is called a Super fruit.

But Ian’s success is not only due to his enterprising spirit and vision, he also boasts a business administration diploma and multiple certificates in videography, design and art. His creative side enabled him to design packaging for his first product, Malambe Jam, to further show the Baobab’s true African heritage.

After a month of research and planning, Ian decided to launch and register his own food processing initiative. Working out of his parent’s kitchen, the first ever Malambe Jam, saw the light and as they say, the rest if history and Khonge had never looked back.

He told the Nyasa Times in Malawi that his IKFP business enterprise’s (Ian Khonje Food Processing) main focus was to ensure that the shortage of seasonal foods is eliminated and that a healthy option would provide proper sustenance throughout the year.

IKFP’s raw products are sourced locally from small farmers, all part of Khanje’s vision to empower and sustain rural and poorer communities to promote an inclusive value chain through which many of his country’s residents can benefit.

The jam’s sweet taste allows for it to be eaten in a variety of ways. Lather it on bread, home-made biscuits or any baked snack. For a high sustenance start to a day, it can be added to porridge. And for those with a sweet tooth, it can be eaten straight from the jar or on ice cream.

And with young people’s technological acumen, the QR code on the unique packaging can be scanned and the history of Malambe Jam, as well as its ingredients are available.