Innovative businesswomen awarded

Iron ladies

13 July 2020 | Business

Ruth Martnez-Lago, IFAC – “The next step is to grow the business to provide our services to other African countries and to the rest of the world.”

Walvis Bay •[email protected]

Local entrepreneur and food safety consultant Ruth Martinez-Lago was one of 54 ladies from across Africa who emerged as a winner in the Woman in Africa (WIA) philanthropy foundation competition, WIA54.

Each year the foundation selects 54 women entrepreneurs from 54 African countries, who have created start-ups with the most innovative and high-growth potential companies or initiatives with already proven traction.

Martinez-Lago said that the start-ups should address issues from nine sectors identified by the World Bank for Africa. These are education, health, agriculture and the food industry, financial technology, digital technology; climate and sustainable development, creative industries and the beauty industries.

“Our business, Iyalago Food Assurance Consultants, was fortunate to be considered as it tackles issues in the health sector.”
Iyalago Food Assurance Consultants (IFAC) is the brainchild of Martinez-Lago and Vera Iyambo. Established in April 2017, IFAC aims to assist food establishments in Namibia to implement and manage food safety and quality management systems.

The two iron ladies behind IFAC each have over 13 years’ experience in the fishing industry and hold Bachelor of Science degrees in fisheries and aquatic sciences from the University of Namibia.

Martinez-Lago said she submitted an application for the WIA54 competition.

“The competition had 3800 entries of which 144 were selected as finalists and 54 winners were announced on 25 June 2020. I was one of three Namibians that entered and was selected as a laureate representing Namibia. The selection process was conducted by one of the leading management consulting firms in the world and a major patron of the Women in Africa Initiative, Roland Berger. The selection process was credible and based on merit.”

The winners reap numerous benefits.

“One benefit is being mentored for a year by large organisations or patrons of the WIA initiative and experienced business women. Other benefits include visibility and high level networking with WIA club members and other entrepreneurs from different African countries.”

Martinez-Lago says being selected also indicates that the work IFAC does in helping food businesses produce safe and high quality food, is highly valued in Namibia and Africa.

IFAC also started a graduate mentoring program in its start-up phase.

“We take in a graduate or two per year. We mentor and train them in food safety and quality assurance aspects of the food industry so that they can obtain the necessary skills and knowledge to become employable in the food industry.”

Martinez-Lago says she is very excited about the future.

“Being an entrepreneur has taken me out of my comfort zone and made me realise that I can do more given the opportunity. Being a WIA laureate will open doors for me in a big way. The next step is to grow the business to provide our services to other African countries and to the rest of the world.”

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