Following the final of the ‘Open to Export International Business Awards‘, we talk to some of the finalists about the impact that the Export Action Plan tool has had on their business and their exports.
Company: Hot Mama’s Belize
Representative: Wilana Oldham
How did you find the using the Export Action Plan tool and what impact did it have on your business?
The tool was very informative and helped me to better understand all the coaching that I had been receiving. This was a perfect way to practice what I had learnt and it pushed me to dig deeper for my research to ensure that I had done all that there was to do. It has certainly brought clarity to the future and what needs to be done.
What impact will being a finalist have on your business?
It should certainly give the company more exposure and bring more awareness to Belize and the products and services we have to offer.
Looking ahead, what’s your next step now as a business?
Our intention is to continue along the path taken…..increase our exports into the targeted markets. Review the plan and focus on those areas that need strengthening. Set a date to begin.
What three tips would you give to other MSMEs looking to enter international trade?
- Do the research necessary to understand the marketplace.
- Have an export plan in place so that you can understand what is needed and the costs associated with it.
- Don’t feel overwhelmed by the tasks ahead. Take it one step at a time.
About Hot Mama’s Belize
Hot Mama’s Belize is ideally located in the pristine rain forests of western and central Belize. Wilana Oldham, the founder and managing director for the company, is a native-born Belizean. She and her husband moved back to Belize with the intention of producing a habanero pepper jelly, but instead ended up doing fresh pepper shipments into the USA. With lots of hard work, going out to visit with the farmers in the villages throughout the country, a quarter million pounds of fresh peppers was shipped to the USA and Canadian markets by the second year in business. Due to an illness, Wilana had to take several years off for treatment and recovery before getting back to the business of producing the pepper jelly, a family recipe.
Hot Mama’s Belize is now an agro-processor and manufacturer that produces premium quality products by working closely with small farmers and farmer groups to ensure a consistent supply of high quality produce and peppers. The company believes in a culture of giving back to the local community and helping the farmers “one bottle at a time.”
In addition to the Habanero Pepper Jelly, a Mango Sauce was introduced, which is made with fresh mangos and habanero peppers. The third product, Sweet Pepper Sauce, came about through an accident and is now the number one sauce sold. Both of these sauces has won several awards at international food shows in the USA. Additional sauces include several heat levels of the Habanero Peppers, a Hot Mustard and a Steak & BBQ sauce to top off the list. The company also takes advantage of seasonal and tropical fruits for their jellies. All of these products are considered to be Vegetarian, Non-GMO, Gluten Free and does not have any artificial chemicals preservatives.
The company is registered as a Foreign Food Facility with the US FDA and several of its SKUs have approval for entry into the US marketplace. We follow HACCP principles and are presently going through a manual audit to ensure we are in compliance. An official audit to follow shortly for certification.
Supplementary services that is offered is private labelling of the products and special packaging upon request.