PAFO-COLEAD Innovation Series Session n°12

Four inspiring African entrepreneurs presented the range of skills that they have developed to build successful and sustainable agribusinesses in Africa during the 12th Innovations Session, organised by the Pan-African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO) and COLEAD on 15 February 2023. The online session was attended by over 215 participants from Africa, the Caribbean region and Europe.

The recordings of the session are available in English, French and Portuguese on COLEAD’s YouTube channel.

Developing a business, financing risks and undertaking innovations require a wide range of entrepreneurial skills that include adaptability and resilience, business acumen, continuous learning, financial management, creativity, leadership, marketing and networking, as well as technical and technological knowledge. The four featured entrepreneurs described the skills they have developed to start and expand their businesses:

Marlene José, CEO of the Angola-based company FoodCare, highlighted the necessity of processing in compliance with hygiene and food safety standards, in addition to preserving the originality of indigenous products. FoodCare’s factory is HACCP and FDA certified, enabling the company to export to the European and American continents and to increase its product range.

Etienne Christian Dioma is the Director of the Burkinabe cooperative society UPROMABIO/HBS, which produces, processes and markets organic and fair trade dried mango and dried hibiscus flowers for international markets. Throughout his career, Etienne Christian has continuously attended training courses in Belgium, France and Switzerland, as well as training modules offered by COLEAD to continue improving his knowledge and skills in food processing, quality control and export requirements.

Marian Thompson, Managing Director of the Ghanian company Bio-Tropical Products Company Ltd, explained how she has gained the knowledge required to lead the company’s corporate governance and nurture growth strategies of social impact. Attending trade fairs in export markets and building partnerships with support organisations and buyers has been key to establish this profitable business for both the international and regional markets.

Fannie Gondwe, Executive Director of Perisha Agro and Packaging Enterprise, a company based in Malawi, explained how she has developed an eco-inclusive agribusiness aiming at improving the nutritional status of women and children. Taking part in business and investor pitch competitions has been essential to support and finance expanding the company, including its product range of biofortified foods that comprises orange fleshed sweet potato, orange maize, Nua Beans and cassava products.

It is vital to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in developing their business activities as they play a crucial role in the agriculture sector for sustainable economic growth and development in Africa. The Innovations Session n°12 featured two experts who are contributing to building an enabling environment for entrepreneurs:

Kingsly Kongnyuh Kwalar, Founder and CEO of Optimiz, created a platform that supports international traders and their insurers to remotely inspect cargo and help their operationalisation, including through reducing inspection costs and increasing process efficiency. By digitising internal processes, Optimiz enables entrepreneurs to track and quickly identify problematic activities leading to cargo damage along the supply chain and automates the claims process.

Prof. Anthony Egeru is Manager of RUFORUM’s unit for Training and Community Development, which aims to strengthen the effectiveness of university contribution to development through skills development, particularly entrepreneurship of talented, motivated and disadvantaged youth in Africa. RUFORUM provides a platform for training quality graduates to support development processes in Africa through networking, resource mobilisation and advocacy.

Considering that the skills needed by entrepreneurs are constantly evolving, it is of crucial importance to promote and nurture an entrepreneurial spirit and support capacity development. Many organisations, such as PAFO and COLEAD, support farmers’ organisations, cooperatives and entrepreneurs in capacity development, skills enhancement and business relations, in areas related to market research, marketing and packaging, meeting quality standards and labelling requirement, dealing with new administrative procedures and regulatory requirements and having access to opportunities to diversify customers, such as trade fairs and B2Bs.

The PAFO-COLEAD Innovations Sessions focuses on innovations and successes of African farmer-led businesses and SMEs. This activity is supported by the Fit For Market Plus programme, implemented by the COLEAD within the Framework of Development Cooperation between the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union.