Innovation series: Business profiles of the SMES showcased in the PAFO-COLEACP Innovation Sessions

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, markets development, 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 four 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).

The recordings of all Innovations Sessions are available to view on PAFO’s and COLEACP’s YouTube channels.

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.

 Find out more about this company here.

Alex Mutua Muli, Co-founder & CEO, Goshen Farm Exporters Limited, Kenya

Goshen Farm Exporters Limited is 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. 

Find out more about this company here.

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. 

Find out more about this company here.

Eric Muthomi, Founder & CEO, Stawi Foods and Fruits Ltd., Kenya

Stawi Foods is a food company which 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. 

Find out more about this company here.

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 to add value to Togolese (small) cocoa production by transforming cocoa into organic, fair trade, artisanal and local products, such as chocolate bars with various flavours, cocoa beans and chocolate paste.

Since its creation in 2014, the company has developed a new market in Togo, creating supply and demand for processed cocoa bean products. 

Find out more about this company here.

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.

 Find out more about this company here.

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.

 Find out more about this company here.

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.

 Find out more about this company here.

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.

 Find out more about this company here.

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.

 Find out more about this company here.

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.

Find out more about this company here.

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

he 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.

Further, inspiring entrepreneurs will present their stories and business in the next Innovations Session which will focus on Food and Nutrition Security: the contribution of SMEs and businesses. The session will be held online on Thursday 22 July, 12:00-14:00 (GMT), so save the date and register here.