When Vanessa Zommi Kungne ’17 MS was looking for a plant that could benefit people who, like her mother, had diabetes, the moringa tree, which grows in her native Cameroon, fit to a T — and a tea.
Since 2015, Kungne has been perfecting and expanding production of Afya Tea, which is made from nutrient- and antioxidant-rich moringa leaves and may help lower blood-sugar levels. Afya, which means “healthy” in Swahili, describes the product and the state of Kungne’s company. It produces an average of 900 pounds of tea a year. With the installation of more sophisticated equipment this summer, output is expected to reach three tons per month.
For most of her time as a tea maker, Kungne has run the Cameroon-based business from Villanova. After winning several entrepreneurial prizes in Africa, Kungne, a graduate of Catholic University Institute of Buea, left her homeland and came to Villanova to earn a master’s in Chemical Engineering.
She appreciates how much the faculty mentored and supported her. “My professors helped me keep my chin up when life got tough — and when I faced my first snowfall,” says Kungne, who, in May 2016, was named one of the most promising African entrepreneurs by Forbes.
Now she is earning her MBA at the Villanova School of Business and having an equally positive experience. Her growing knowledge is strengthening her abilities as a business leader, and she looks forward to one day returning home and contributing to her country’s development and well-being.
We plan to penetrate markets such as Nigeria, South Africa and the US.”
Vanessa Zommi Kungne ’17 MS