In November 2020, the Pan-African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO) and COLEACP launched the Innovations Series on innovations and successes of African farmer-led businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
SMEs, despite the numerous challenges they face, have unprecedented opportunities to supply local, regional, and export markets. Moreover, innovation is a driving force in transforming food systems, promoting sustainable agriculture, and leveraging investment.
In this context, PAFO and COLEACP hold a two-hour session, every two months, to share best practices from entrepreneurs, farmers, and agripreneurs, with a focus on innovations in production methods, market development, and digital solutions, technologies, and circular economy. They also feature views on the supporting policy, research, finance, and investment environment.
Hundreds of participants from more than 100 countries worldwide gathered during the first seven Innovations Sessions and discovered the impact of inspiring entrepreneurs on the following topics :
- Increased market opportunities through added-value and branded products (Session n°1),
- Grow local: Conquering local markets (Session n°2),
- African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): opportunities for SMEs and businesses in the agri-food sector (Session n°3),
- Sustainable food systems: the key role of SMEs and businesses (Session n°4),
- Food and Nutrition Security: the contribution of SMEs and businesses (Session n°5),
- Promoting sustainable agriculture and agro-ecological practices: the key role of MSMEs and farmers organizations (Session n°6),
- Innovations in the African agro-processing sector: the key role of SMEs and businesses (Session n°7).
Business profiles have been developed to present each successful business model and development. Meet (again) the featured African entrepreneurs, many of them members of COLEACP, and (re-) discover their inspiring stories below!
Entrepreneurs from the Innovation Sessions N°1 on “Increased market opportunities through added-value and branded products”
Halatou Dem, Director General, Les Céréales de TATAM SARL, Mali
Les Céréales de TATAM SARL adds value to traditionally grown grains in Mali by processing local cereals (such as millet flour, fonio, monicourou, diouka, etc.) with high nutritional content. It brings this delicious traditional food to the urban population.
The company commits to achieving innovation through nutrition and promoting women’s employment and privileges women in the recruitment process.
Alex Mutua Muli, Co-founder & CEO, Goshen Farm Exporters Limited, Kenya
Goshen Farm Exporters Limited is a family-owned company which produces and exports fruit crisps from dried Kenyan mangoes, pineapples, leafy vegetables etc. without additives or added sugar.
The company integrates technology into its business model to enhance the development of the supply chains by using the digital platform DigiFarm to connect fruit and vegetable sellers and buyers. It also actively works on developing climate-smart farming solutions and a green factory where all waste will be recycled.
Alice Riouall, Founder & CEO, Mango So, Burkina Faso
Mango So processes fresh mangoes and coconuts into organic and Fairtrade dried mango and coconut chips, which are mainly exported to international markets. Mango-So constantly anticipates and develops products adapted to specific markets, such as mango jam and mango sirop for the local market.
The company participates in community life by improving its workers’ children’s health and education, promoting gender equality by enabling both young and adult women to become economically independent, and combating women’s exclusion and early and forced marriages, among others.
Eric Muthomi, Founder & CEO, Stawi Foods and Fruits Ltd., Kenya
Stawi Foods is a food company that processes seven nutritious locally grown crops: banana, amaranth, maize, finger millet, red sorghum, soy, and wheat. Its product range includes pre-cooked, nutritious porridge flour made from ancient grains blended with bananas.
The company aims at generating prosperity in Kenya for all stakeholders in the food industry supply chain. Stawi Foods supports its local supplier farmers to access the market and produce food sustainably while providing access to affordable nutritious food to low-income Kenyan families.
Entrepreneurs from the Innovation Sessions N°2 on “Grow local: Conquering local markets”
Komi Agbokou, Co-founder & President, ChocoTogo, Togo
ChocoTogo is a cooperative that promotes sustainable organic cocoa production, including by preserving old cocoa varieties, and adding value to Togolese (small) cocoa production by transforming cocoa into organic, fair trade, artisanal and local products, such as chocolate bars with various flavors, cocoa beans, and chocolate paste.
Catherine Krobo Edusei, Founder & CEO, Eden Tree Limited, Ghana
Eden Tree Limited applies an integrated business model, as it produces, packages and markets high-end fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices, as well as convenience foods in order to promotes healthy eating habits. Eden Tree acts as a bridge between farmers and consumers by connecting farmers to markets. It also incorporates innovation and environmental protection in its business model.
The company is strongly committed to corporate social responsibility and contributes to various Ghanaian nonprofit organizations.
Bertille Guèdègbé Marcos, Founder & CEO, Les Fruits Tillou SARL & Les Jus Tillou SA, Benin
Les Fruits Tillou & Les Jus Tillou are family businesses which produce and process pineapple. LES FRUITS TILLOU SARL produces organic and conventional fresh pineapples, as well as dried pineapples, for international markets. LES JUS TILLOU SA. produces industrial organic pineapple juice for international markets and artisanal pineapple juice which is sold on the local market and in the sub-region.
The successful development of both companies has contributed to creating employment, empowering women, and developing the area surrounding the processing units with the construction of schools and wells among others.
Affiong Williams, Founder & CEO, Reelfruit, Nigeria
Reelfruit creates new value chains by processing fresh fruit in value-added convenient produces, like snacks, and by building its own network for distribution. The processed mangoes, pineapples, coconuts, bananas and plantains are distributed in local and export markets, including through Amazon.
The company trains its salaries, especially rural women, to grow high-quality, export-grade mangoes. Moreover, with its empowering women’s program “Female Farmers To High-Value Mango Farming”, ReelFruit has contributed to a 300% increase in farmers’ incomes.
Entrepreneurs from the Innovation Sessions N°3 on “AfCFTA: opportunities for SMEs and businesses in the agri-food sector”
Dan Jakana, Founder & CEO, Jakana Foods Ltd, Uganda
Jakana Foods Ltd is a food processor and packaging technology specialist producing organic certified and natural non-organic dried fruit, natural fruit juice, pulp and concentrate, as well as condiments. The processed fruit are Uganda grown pineapple, mango, papaya, jackfruit, banana etc.
The company has created a community premium fund with its buyers to give back to the communities in which its farmers live. The communities which surround the factory and farm benefit from training, agro-processing education, and new product development opportunities for all entrepreneurs interested in value addition.
Michael Annan-Forson, Founder & CEO, Melach Coconut Processing Farm, Ghana
Melach Coconut Processing Farm is a coconut processing company which produces, among others, Ecocert Fairtrade-certified extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil, fresh coconut water, coconut porridge and organic coconut butter. The products are traded under the product brand name “Ropheka” for the health & beauty sector, as well as the food and hospitality sectors.
The company sources coconut from local farmers (mostly women, many in a vulnerable situation) providing a variety of services to them. It also raises health awareness in local schools of the farming community, and supports orphanages and widows.
Moussa Silvain Diakité, Founder & CEO, Service Commercial Silvain International SARL, Mali
Service Commercial Silvain International SARL (SCS International) is a company packing and exporting fresh mangoes which is internationally recognised for its exported fruit, as it fully meets the requirements and quality standards to access high value markets. SCS International is also involved in the agrifood business import of fruit, vegetables and meat to Mali.
The company maintains long-lasting and trusting relationships with its partners along the value chain: it supports its producers, trains its staff, has long-term contracts with its suppliers, regularly exchanges with its clients, as well as technical and financial partners, and actively participates in Mali’s mango interprofessional association.
Find soon more information about this company.
Entrepreneurs from the Innovation Sessions N°4 on “Sustainable food systems: the key role of SMEs and businesses”
Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, Founder & Executive Director, ColdHubs Limited, Nigeria
ColdHubs Limited produces solar-powered walk-in cold storage rooms for 24/7 cold storage of perishable foods, extending the shelf life of fruit and vegetables from two to 21 days. This breakthrough innovation enables the local community and smallholder farmers to store food in the cold room by paying a daily flat fee of about US$0.50 for each 20kg (44lbs) crate of food.
The company aims at contributing to achieve food security by preserving perishable products, as well as to uplift and empower local Nigerian communities, especially women though hiring mainly women to manage the operations and collection of revenue at ColdHubs stations.
Lovin Kobusingye, Co-founder & CEO, KATI FARMS (Uganda) LTD, Uganda
KATI FARMS (Uganda) LTD is the first agrofish-processing enterprise producing fish sausages in Uganda. The company’s flagship product is the fish sausage made of locally-sourced tilapia. Other processed fish and healthy products include, among others, fish samosas, frozen and chilled fish fillets, fish powder, surimi, crude fish oil, fish meal.
The company aims at adding value to local aquaculture products in order to make farming profitable and attractive for the present and the future generations. It is also dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs build and grow successful fish businesses, many of them being women.
Find soon more information about this company
Pierre Damien Mbatezimana, Founder & Managing Director, SHEKINA Enterprise, Rwanda
SHEKINA Enterprise is a food processing company which produces dried cassava leaves with a shelf life of two years and instant mixtures of all ingredients used to cook cassava leaves with fish or beef flavour. It also produces flour from cassava and other crops, such as maize, millet, peanut, roasted soybeans, etc.
The company developed and uses an innovative drying technology to secure the nutritive value of cassava leaves while avoiding their wastage due to their high perishability (as leaves have a high water content). This value-addition eases the commercialisation and transport of the products.
Find soon more information about this company.
Gaëtan Etancelin, President, SYMABIO, Madagascar
The Malagasy Union for Organic Agriculture (Syndicat Malgache de l’Agriculture Biologique, SYMABIO) reunites all the stakeholders of the organic farming sector in Madagascar, among others, Chocolaterie Robert which processes Madagascar’s cocoa into bars, confectionery, and pastries, as well as SAHANALA Madagascar SA which brings together four producers’ federations, including the vanilla federation.
SYMABIO defends the interests of all the actors involved in the production of organic farming products and is the privileged interlocutor for public authorities and professionals. It also takes part in the negotiations of the organic national legal framework.
Find soon more information about this company.
Entrepreneurs from the Innovation Sessions N°5 ON Food and nutrition security the contribution of SMEs and businesses
David Foli Ayivor, Founder & CEO, Agromyx, Ghana
Agromyx is an agri-food processing company created in 2017 which addresses the problem of food waste by working directly with smallholder farmers and purchasing their excess produce. The company converts excess produce into freeze-dried vitamin- and mineral-rich instant cereals and fruit powders, in order to retain high nutrient levels in the resulting products. Agromyx currently works directly with 165 smallholder farmers, 112 of whom are women. From 2020 to 2021, around 27,000 tonnes of excess fresh produce were purchased from farmers at market price. The company is encouraging local farmers to transition toward organic agricultural practices and agroforestry; as well as supports building capacity and market resilience among the partner smallholder farmers through training programs.
|Oluwaseun Sangoleye, Founder & CEO, Baby Grubz, Nigeria |
Baby Grubz is an innovative social enterprise based in Lagos which manufactures packaged infant meals and snacks made from grains, fruit, and vegetables and operates in Ghana, Togo, and the United Kingdom. Baby Grubz aims to change the way babies are fed in Africa and to reduce the high rates of malnutrition and poverty in Nigeria. Its products are prepared with superfoods sourced locally in order to tackle the major deficiencies in baby and infant nutrition. The target consumers are low and middle-income women with children aged 6 months to 5 years. Baby Grubz also works with over 300,000 mothers to provide peer-to-peer mentoring on the benefits of nutritious foods and breastfeeding.
Find out more about this company here.
Jolenta Joseph, Founder & CEO of Sanavita, Tanzania
Sanavita adds value to crops such as orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP), beans, and maize to address the high rates of malnutrition in Tanzania; especially anaemia and vitamin A. Sanavita supports over 1,500 smallholder farmers producing maize, beans and OFSP tubers. In buying the produce from these farmers and converting it into nutritious food products, Sanavita offers a reliable link to ready markets. Sanavita is improving the livelihoods of rural communities and supporting women to escape poverty through engagement in agriculture. It delivers training in good farming and management practices and offers consultation on a range of issues, including nutrition for special groups (community risk); nutrition for children under six years; malnutrition intervention; and production and quality of biofortified crops.
Marie Ange Mukagahima, Founder & CEO, Zima Enterprise, Rwanda
Zima Enterprise processes pumpkin and pumpkin seeds into roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil and flour, and pumpkin cookies. Pumpkins are rich in minerals such as magnesium, zinc, potassium, and sodium; have high vitamin levels; contain antioxidants and dietary fiber, and are low in cholesterol. Moreover, pumpkins are an easy crop to grow in Rwanda, and they display little seasonality. Zima Enterprise enables five rural cooperatives of women farmers and over 50 farmers to form a ready link to the pumpkin market. The company ensures a constant supply of pumpkins for processing and packaging into value-added items by providing the farmers with high-quality seeds for sowing. The relationship supports a rise in the standard of living of these farmers and provides them with skills, tools, and market awareness regarding their crops.
Courage Hodey, Financial Manager, MAPHLIX TRUST GHANA LTD, Ghana
Maphlix Trust Ghana is a player in Ghana’s food industry, producing and selling a variety of food crops in the categories of vegetables (22 crops), grain, and roots and tubers. The company exports produced from some major food crops including yam, orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP), and fresh vegetables and fruits. They also add value to their root and tuber crops such as cassava and OFSP through processing. Maphlix Trust Ghana’s business units include agricultural production, agro-processing, agronomy, and input supply.
Entrepreneurs from the Innovation Sessions N°6 on Promoting sustainable agriculture and agro-ecological practices: The key role of MSMES and Farmers organizations
Gustav Dessogom Bakounda, Founder & Director, Label d’Or and Jus Délices, Togo
Label d’Or is a pioneer Togolese company supporting agricultural sectors along the entire value chain (production, processing, export). Label d’Or supports (small) producers in organizing themselves into cooperatives and unions and provides training and certification in organic farming. The company works with more than 10,000 producers in 14 organic productions.
Jus Délice is Togo’s first modern organic juice processing plant for export, as well as the largest organic pineapple juice processing plant in Togo.
Olayemi Aganga, Co-founder & Head of production, Maungo Craft, Bostwana
Maungo Craft is an award-winning company that upcycles indigenous fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be wasted to produce jams, sauces, and syrups, and also works with cosmetic oil processors. Maungo Craft creates new value chains between communities, cosmetic processors, and farmers to develop a climate change adaptive circular economy. The company started in 2017 and won 13 local, regional and international awards including the Pan African Agri-preneurship Competition “Gogettaz” in 2019.
Gora Ndiaye, Founder & Director, Ferme-École Agroécologique de Kaydara, Senegal
The Kaydara agro-ecological farm school is located in the village of Keur Samba Dia, Senegal, and offers alternatives to the rural exodus and agro-ecological training for young Senegalese. Since 2007, the association has trained dozens of young farmers at the farm school and has become a reference for local institutions, NGOs, and French local authorities working on co-development. It is a model based on social inclusion and its vision lies in the symbolism of the initiation tale “Kaydara” (Amadou Hampaté Bâ), where the values of knowledge take precedence over having and power.
Noël N’Guessan, Co-founder & Chief Technical Officer, LONO, Côte d’Ivoire
LONO is an engineering company based in Côte d’Ivoire which makes carbon and nutrient recycling accessible to farmers. Since launching in 2017, the company has developed two products under the brand name Kubeko that smallholder farmers can use to directly recycle the nutrients and organic matter back into their soils.
The company works directly with cooperatives and larger value chain organizations to integrate their sustainability strategies, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for palm oil and ECOCERT for cacao and fruit production. The company is also developing larger industrial composting projects that create a local bioeconomy for organic waste.
Entrepreneurs from the Innovation Sessions N°7 ON Innovations in the African Agroprocessing sector: The key role of SMES and businesses
Euphrasie Dassoundo, Founder and General Director, Agro Express, Benin
Agro Express is a company that processes fruit, vegetables, and spices into purees and concentrates. In addition to tomato puree, its flagship product, the company offers garlic and onion puree, ground ginger, peanut paste, spice mixes, and marinades. By processing these local products, Agro Express contributes to reducing post-harvest losses for Beninese producers. In addition to its economic and environmental impact, the company supports the social development of local communities, by creating jobs for young people and women.
Elmine Kouyaté, Founder and Director, Axxiom, Côte d’Ivoire
Axxiom is an Ivorian company that offers fresh mushrooms, mainly of the oyster variety, as well as processed products such as dried mushrooms, prepared meals, energy drink and cosmetic products made from mushrooms.
The company is involved in the entire mushroom value chain, from production to waste management, as well as processing. Moreover, Axxiom works with local producers, supports and has invested in 7 mushroom farms, all run by women, having so a positive impact on the development of local and rural communities in Côte d’Ivoire.
Jane Maigua, Managing Director, Exotic EPZ Limited, Kenya
Exotic EPZ Limited is a renowned company specializing in macadamia nuts processing and exporting, mainly to international markets (USA, Asia, and Europe). The company works closely with 7,000 macadamia nut farmers in 10 different regions of Kenya to source raw materials. Exotic EPZ Limited provides them with seeds and offers training on various topics such as soil maintenance and waste management.
As an inclusive and responsible social enterprise, Exotic EPZ Limited contributes to the achievement of various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has been awarded for its activities and commitment
Adama Mbaye, CEO, BAONANE, Senegal
BAONANE is a Senegalese agribusiness that offers a range of baobab-based products such as fruit pulp, powder, leaves, seeds, and baobab oil. The company also produces hibiscus flowers – whole and processed into oil – as well as local cereals, poultry, and livestock feed.
With an entirely organic agriculture production and a strong relationship with Senegalese producers, BAONANE supports fair, social, and sustainable agriculture, contributing to the development of the agricultural and agri-food sector and promoting employment among rural communities, particularly among young people and women.
Eric Medji, Co-founder and Managing Director, OTHENTIKS, Benin
OTHENTIKS is a family business specializing in producing and marketing quality fruit juices. The juice is all-natural, without coloring agents, preservatives, or artificial flavoring. They are available in more than 10 flavors including pineapple, baobab, pineapple, ginger, mango, or papaya.
OTHENTIKS is committed to limit its impact on the environment and implementing responsible waste management. The company also actively participates in its producers’ and partners’ social and economic development and contributes financially to the development of disadvantaged populations.