It is, perhaps, the only muesli of its kind in the region. Traditional flavour, healthy, convenient and tasty, it is meant to celebrate Basotho’s love for sorghum. And it is arguably the best way to start your day.
The company that produces the muesli is under the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub and its products go by the trade name “Bohlokoa.” It is led by ‘Matokelo Nthejane and Moliehi Mohapinyane under the the supervision of Dr Pulane Nkhabutlane.
What is this Bohlokoa muesli?
Bohlokoa Muesli is a ready-to-eat cereal made from sorghum cereal mixed with a variety of ingredients including nuts, whole seeds, and dried fruits. You can eat it with milk, yogurt or you can munch on it as a snack. It is a super food packed with nutrients.
It is versatile.
This is how it started.
When the NUL Innovation Hub shifted into high gears later last year, one of the new companies that it gave birth to was Superfoods which produces Bohlokoa products.
Nthejane and Mohapinyane, the former NUL students of Consumer Science were more than surprised when they were called by their former lecturer, Dr Nkhabutlane, to come and lead Bohlokoa.
They never looked back.
But they did not know what to expect. And that is the very nature of the NUL Innovation Hub. The moment you become part of it, you literally enter into the world of the unknown. You come to a place where you discover new things and solve new problems almost daily.
“Your abilities are tested to the limits,” said the formidable twosome.
So they just had an idea that they would start making and selling sorghum based muesli. How that would happen, they had to figure it out themselves.
Their innovative faculties were set free. They jumped deep into research and experimented with all kinds of combinations. They tested the recipes and through many trials they have come to their convenient, healthy and flavoursome recipe. And this is what they have to say about it all, “we learned that true entrepreneurship is no walk in the park.”
Then they have some layer of wisdom to share with their peers, “we have learned that you need to be extremely patient and persistent and to know what you want.”
By all means, they are not there yet.
But people are warming up to their unique muesli. Many with special dietary requirements find the muesli comforting. Most are choosing it for its great taste which doesn’t come with the guilty feeling of eating tasty but junk stuff.
Here is another secret of the NUL Innovation Hub that makes its products, including Bohlokoa products, so unique—the emphasis on practice over theory. “When we developed these products, we were not just making laboratory tests,” they said.
In line with the true culture of the Hub, “we would make the products, put them in the markets, get feedback from people eating them and then refine them until people said, “This is good.””
Yep! The hub goes by the slogan, “90% practice, 10% theory.” That is why you won’t see a lot of chalkboards therein.
Again, and in line with the culture of the Hub, these young ladies understand that to give people what they want, you have to develop products not just for them but WITH THEM.
“For instance, we used to put eggs in the recipe and the people said, “No! No!” they said. “We pulled them out and the people said, “Yes! Yes!”
Consumers did not only school them on the quality of the products but they schooled them on pricing too, “They told us right away that our products were too expensive.”
That had implications. To reduce the price, it meant reworking the recipe without sacrificing its quality.
They say they have learned that of all the innovation hub strategies, listening to the people, even fierce critics, is one of the best ways to create good products.
Why is it so important that Bohlokoa products are based on sorghum?
Other than the fact that sorghum itself is a traditional choice for Basotho, it is a healthy choice. It is gluten free, has high fibre and it has proved to be one of the most drought-resistant plants in the age of climate change and rain-less seasons.
Due to a generous amount of fibre in Bohlokoa, it fills you up quickly so you can eat very small amounts. So it assists with weight control. Since you can also eat it as a snack, it is a healthy choice for the busy type who eat on the go.
One last thing that sets the hub apart is its emphasis on empowering the locals. “We source locally,” they said. “We used to find it hard to get dried fruits until we went into the villages and found communities which are now supplying us with both the sorghum and the dried fruits.”
For them, “support local” is not just a slogan. They live it!