The only SA mill to process only non-GMO super maize
Jo Galloway of SA Rice Mills is a miller who is passionately building a business that a few months ago became the only mill in South Africa to start processing only non-GMO super maize.
Jo Galloway has a dream of helping rural South Africans grow healthier, one bag of maize at a time.
It’s a bigger challenge than it seems at first glance. Maize is the staple for most rural communities. And with the massive uptake of Genetically Modified crops (or GMOs), which produce higher yields for farmers and lower prices for consumers, the pap on the table is likely to be made from GMO maize. Officially, 80% of South African maize products contain GMOs. Galloway says she has looked hard but has struggled to find any maize products labeled GMO-free.
Health concern around GMO consumption is vigorously refuted by many, but Galloway believes there is a moral imperative to give people the choice to buy affordable non-GMO foods.
Galloway is a miller who is passionately building a business that a few months ago became the only mill in South Africa to start processing only non-GMO super maize. Some other mills do both GMO and non-GMO – but the equipment cleaning required to guarantee non-cross-contamination can mean the loss of up to 70 tons of product. This makes it an extremely expensive process, so most don’t bother.
Galloway’s new maize mill is an offshoot from the core operation of her family business, SA Rice Mills, which, as the name suggests, produces rice flour. But the non-GMO maize is Galloway’s central passion these days and her product is shortly set to reach a supermarket shelf near you.
Galloway was one of 24 finalists in the Pick n Pay Boost Your Biz competition that offered business management training to 60 business owners. The 24 finalists were invited to a boot camp in Cape Town and Johannesburg where Pick n Pay mentors guided them through the processes they would need to become part of the retail environment. They also won access to Pick n Pay’s retail shelves, including preferential trading and payment terms, guidance and on-going expert advice in all aspects of business.
Galloway, who has a financial accounting background and previously ran several small businesses, including a skip rental operation, says she entered the competition because she thought the learning curve would be wonderful if she was selected. “I really believe that nothing you ever learn is worthless.”
In the end she made it through all the rounds and her product is set to reach Pick n Pay shelves at the end of February, under the Pick n Pay house brand.
Asked what inspired her during the competition she cites Suzanne Ackerman’s “genuine desire to grow small entrepreneurs”.
“Suzanne has a real passion for developing small businesses, developing employment for South Africa. It’s about giving hope for South Africa. It was amazing to see that,” she said.
“The training was excellent,” she said. “For the young entrepreneurs starting out it would have proved absolutely invaluable. When you start out you really don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know all the legal issues, the barriers. The training was clear-cut and absolutely to the point. Even if I hadn’t won, the training on its own would have been invaluable.”
Suzanne Ackerman-Berman said, “It’s always inspiring to find someone with a niche product, and the desire to make things better. Diversification of businesses in adapting to changes is often a big catalyst for innovation and new products and this is one of those instances where the challenge has been picked up and built on.”
Galloway’s greatest takeaway from the competition is the lesson that you can’t do everything yourself. “You can’t. You have to learn to delegate – look at something and know that you could do it for half the price, but understand whether it would also mean you get half the job. Also you should not immerse yourself 24/7 in your business – it’s very important to give yourself a space for yourself.”
Galloway may be trying to create some quality space for herself, but there is no question she is primarily focused on what she can deliver to others. “My mission is to put non-GMO on the shelves for ordinary South Africans,” she said.
She will have many takers.
Jo’s products are available at select Pick n Pay stores. For more information, visit here ….
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