Vanessa Zommi is a young entrepreneur in Cameroon who decided to fight back against diabetes after losing both of her grandparents to the disease. When she was 17 years old, her mother was also diagnosed with diabetes, which was when Zommi decided to take action. Since then, Zommi has developed a natural way to fight diabetes using Moringa leaf tea.
“She came across the Moringa oleifera tree, which grew in her region, and discovered it has a number of nutritional and medicinal benefits,” says an article about Zommi in How We Made It In Africa. “One of these is reducing blood sugar levels to treat diabetes and, after a bit more research, Zommi found she could easily process the Moringa leaf into a tasty tea.”
According to the article, studies show that two hours after drinking the tea, sugar levels in the body decrease. Zommi’s discovery led to the development of her own business, the Emerald Moringa Tea Company, which now supplies over 40 African offices with the medicinal Moringa leaf tea.
According to Zommi’s team research, about 15 percent of the Buea population aged 15 to 99 suffer from diabetes and up to 80 percent are not aware of their condition. The disease is prevalent in the region in part because of a lack of access to healthy food that is high in nutrients and low in sugar.
Another problem is that the high cost of medicine and healthcare makes diabetes a low priority disease in the eyes of healthcare providers. Moringa leaf tea is an affordable, practical treatment for Cameroonians.
Zommi’s company currently employs nine people and is looking at expanding its distribution to other regions in Cameroon, as well as other parts of Africa. In 2015, she became one of the top 12 finalists for the Anzisha Prize, Africa’s premier award for young entrepreneurs. Shortly after she became a finalist for the award, she met with the president of Cameroon, Paul Biya, to discuss ideas for the future.
Zommi is a strong advocate of African women in entrepreneurship, as she believes it is a way to empower women both financially and socially. Her advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs is to educate themselves in any way they can and just take the leap. “I hope through my story that I can be a role model for young girls who want to do something like this,” she said.
– Megan Hadley