Stevia Mood is a young company, established July 2016 by Algerian Lydia Merrouch, specializing in the cultivation of organic stevia. Stevia is a natural sweetener of plant origin providing calorie-free sugar ideal for diabetics, hypertensives, obese people and people who want to lose weight. Stevia Mood presently employs three people.
Algerian Lydia Merrouche is a 35-years-old married mother of a 4-year-old son. She has always dreamt of being an entrepreneur to enjoy the freedom of being her own boss.
What is your next dream?
“I plan to develop my project, export my product, and make my brand internationally well-known.”
What advice would you give other women wanting to step into their power and follow their dreams?
“Nothing is impossible for a woman! Go ahead and make your dreams come through. You can and will succeed if only you don’t give up, no matter how many difficulties you encounter.
The biggest difficulty I encountered was raising capital for the transformation of the plant to white sugar. The bank asked me for an insurance mortgage, covering the agricultural land, which I did not have. Fortunately, I had personal savings with which I started without going through the bank. In 2017, I sold all my harvest as dry leaves but in 2018, I plan to start processing dry leaves into white sugar.”
Tell us more about your deeper background for the establishment of Stevia Mood?
“Before launching my stevia business, I was a lawyer by training and an entrepreneur since 2008 when I established a communication and advertising business. After that, I opened a company selling agri-food products. Eventually, in 2014, I decided to close my companies and resume working as a lawyer.
In 2015, I stopped working to devote myself to raising my son and was a stay-at-home mum enjoying seeing my son grow up.
One day, I saw a documentary on stevia and its health benefits. I left for Spain to undergo training in growing and transforming stevia. On my return to Algeria, I settled as a stevia farmer. For the 17 months I have been a farmer, I have never looked back.
I fell in love with the stevia as a plant because of its therapeutic qualities for human beings. It is a plant that provides sugar without any calories and it is a natural sweetener unlike other synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharine which are all cancerogenic.
It also has a sweetening power up to 450 times higher than normal sugar.
It contains vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, fluorine, zinc, selenium, cobalt and proteins.
I am deeply passionate about promoting healthy food without chemicals to reduce the number of lifestyle deceases we witness in the 21st century. Organic and natural food without chemicals is protecting our health and I want to contribute to a healthier lifestyle (something the sugar cartel is not fond of obviously). With stevia we grow our health. That’s my slogan – STEVIA MOOD – let’s grow our health.”
Tell us about the challenges of Algerian women?
“Women enjoy most human rights in Algeria thanks to the constitution which is based on the laws of the Muslim religion.
Women in business life in Algeria is though a minority although an increasingly number of women are more and more tempted to establish their own businesses.
There are many obstacles for working women in addition to the fact that starting a business already is a challenge in itself. It is a struggle to obtain financing, and lots of professions are culturally predominantly for men. If women embark on a male dominated professional career track in for instance construction or agriculture, they often lack experience and face difficulties in juggling family life and professional life. An issue many women the world over face, unfortunately.”
Women enjoy equal pay for equal work. 40% of women working for the state or in the private sector enjoy a lot of responsibility.
The Algerian woman can get married, divorce and even inherit. If she divorces, she has the right to housing if the children are in her care.
According to Islam, women has a right to work. The first female business leader in the world was a women called Mrs. Khadija who was the wife of the Prophet Mohamed.”