Said Koroma started out his business with a $50 graduation gift his mother gave him back in 1989. He had received a scholarship to study in the Soviet Union that was thwarted with the fall of communism. He started buying and selling goods as a local business man in his teens with hopes that he would save enough money to go study elsewhere. The opportunity never came but his business grew from year to year as he moved to importing products, construction, and logistics. On one of his many trips to buy goods to sell in Sierra Leone he visited Malaysia, and Thailand and his eyes were opened to agricultural opportunities wasting back at home.
Marika Enterprises is now one of Sierra Leone’s foremost producers of agricultural products. Marika produces soap and cooking oil from the nut of the plam kernel, uses it to create energy to steam/parboil rice, it is used in his organic fertilizer and soon he will exporting the plam kernel shells to the European Union to be converted to bio fuel.
The Marika soap interestingly has the face of an Asian woman on the package. When I asked why he doesn’t have a black face on the box Mr. Said explains that local consumers will not buy the soap if they thought it was local. The box however though, has it written boldly that it is made in Sierra Leone. Said confessed that many people refuse to accept the soap as a local product. It’s all the same to him as long as it sells.
To every Sierra Leonean who has ever eaten palm oil, or boiled banga with sugar, or cracked the banga to eat the nut inside i say to you what have we been doing wasting your banga?
Said Koroma’s Marika Enterprises is currently the only company making large scale produce from palm kernels. In addition to this i was amazed to find out the Said also recycles plastics and remolds oil plastic waste to make 20 liter containers for the oil produced at the factory. He employs 200 people at the factory in different department of production.
While Said refused to state his worth he did however say that he has invested close to $2 million in machines and produce with plans to expand even further. Said Koroma has inspired me to want to start my own mini farming operation and he is my man of the year, entrepreneur of the year. I am a Marika convert and i am super excited by the possibilities.
I am picking up my Marika rice and oil tomorrow. I already got three packets of Marika soap. Now if i could only convince him to put my face on the box…ah go belly full with gladiness.