Business opportunities for African young entrepreneurs in African and European markets
On Wednesday 26 October 2022, COLEACP and the PanAfrican Farmers Organization (PAFO) co-organized a hybrid session on Business opportunities for African young entrepreneurs in African and European markets as part of the 2022 International Young Farmers Summit organized by the PAFO. The main objective of the Summit is to promote, strengthen and spread the voice of young farmers in the international arena.
The joint session featured three young African entrepreneurs (see biodata) who are part of COLEACP’s wide network of agri-food businesses operating in African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries. Mwangi Muturi presented his business Lusoi Greens Limited in the PAFO and COLEACP Innovations Session n°8. At the same time, Moussa Faye’s and Sandrine Vasselin Kabonga’s respective companies Moussa’s Bissap and MISAO KIVUwere recently featured in the African Diaspora Agrofood Entrepreneurs Compendium published and developed by The Food Bridge and COLEACP. They shared their experiences from Africa and Europe in business development and intercontinental trade (specifically between Africa and Europe).
Moussa’s Bissap is a company that produces a variety of Senegalese traditional fruit infusions named “bissap” made from the hibiscus plant. Moussa, born in Senegal and currently residing in Belgium, founded the company in 2014 and has developed a range of high-quality drinks bottled in the premium glass packaging market, in Europe (mainly in Belgium). The company works directly in partnership with local farmers and experts in Senegal to produce hibiscus. Since its creation, the production increased from 7 to 30 tons of hibiscus, part of which is used for manufacturing drinks, while the rest of the hibiscus is sold to companies in Germany and the United Kingdom (UK). Moussa’s Bissap supports environmental sustainability and generates positive social and economic impacts in Senegal by investing part of the earnings from the sales into the hibiscus growing sites.
Moussa’s key advice: Building trust through the quality of products is essential, as these will represent the country that they are exported from and will pave the way for others.
MISAO KIVU operates in Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to grow, supply, and trade rare peppers and rare spices, vanilla, coffee, and cocoa from the Kivu region in DRC and from the broader Central African region. Sandrine created the company in 2015 when she noticed that the spice sector did not exist in DRC, though the climate and land are ideal for the cultivation of spices. MISAO KIVU established a whole new sub-sector of spice and dried goods in the DRC economy, leading to the creation of job and skills development, especially for rural communities. The company promotes a fair and sustainable production approach with agroforestry systems that contribute to preserving biodiversity, which extends to protecting good seeds and finding rare species that would otherwise disappear in mainstream cultivation plots.
Sandrine’s key advice: Niche markets are the future of the agricultural market in Africa, and the uniqueness of a product will help to ensure it stands out in global markets. Quality and food safety standards and certifications are key for accessing these (export) markets.
Lusoi Greens Limited is a Kenyan company growing, producing, and exporting culinary herbs (e.g. basil, mint, chives, dill etc.), and more recently, vegetables. The company was created in 2018 by Mwangi and exports its products to Europe and the UK, but is exploring the sale to other African markets, including Kenya. Lusoi Greens Limited is Global G.A.P. and GRASP certified, as well as a member of Sedex. Its efforts on certification and continuous improvement, e.g., having its packhouse BRC (British Retail Consortium) -certified, is supported by the Next Kenya program  implemented by COLEACP. Lusoi Greens Limited works closely with local communities, particularly women, invests in its staff by paying above the recommended minimum wage, and provides free water to the local community as it is operating in a semi-arid environment. It uses solar power for pumping water, eliminating the use of polluting energy sources.  This program works to increase the contribution of Kenya’s horticultural sector to household incomes and to improve food security, food safety, and nutrition by increasing the resilience, inclusiveness, and sustainability of the country’s horticultural value chains.
Mwangi’s key advice: Investing in labeling and branding is key as it supports the produce to be associated with high quality, consistency, and sustainability. Branding is especially important when entering new markets to create recognition.
The joint session was facilitated by COLEACP through the implementation of the Fit For Market SPS program funded by the European Union within the Framework of Development Cooperation with the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS). COLEACP supports agri-food entrepreneurship development and business growth in ACP regions and demonstrates a specific focus on youth-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and SMEs which have a positive impact on youth lives. SMEs can request the assistance of COLEACP to improve their capacities in accessing the domestic, regional, and international markets and contributing to a social and fair food system under the new Fit For Market Plus programme.
Young entrepreneurs wanting to present their business or attend the PAFO-COLEACP regular Innovations Sessions can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.