11 entrepreneurs profiting from East Africa’s agribusiness opportunities

From making fish sausages in Uganda to exporting Kenya’s macadamia nuts, these 11 entrepreneurs are taking advantage of opportunities in East Africa’s agribusiness and food industry.

1. Exporting chillies from Rwanda to Europe

Sakina Usengimana

Afri Foods, a horticultural company in Rwanda, was started in 2019 by Sakina Usengimana. It exports crops such as chilli, avocado, eggplant and passion fruit to Germany, the Netherlands, France, the UK, Belgium and Dubai. Read the full article.

2. Ugandan soya bean business grows from side hustle to sizeable operation

Charles Nsubuga

Charles Nsubuga

Charles Nsubuga is the founder of Sesaco, a soya bean processing company producing products such as soya porridge powder, soya milk powder, soya yoghurt and soya ice cream. According to Nsubuga, Sesaco’s main customers are nutrition-conscious people and those who prefer soya as a non-caffeinated alternative to tea and coffee. He is also targeting people with busy lives as most of Sesaco’s products require only the addition of water. Read the full article.

3. Tanzania: Cashew nut entrepreneur sets up local processing for export-led business

Fahad Awadh

YYTZ was founded in 2016 by Fahad Awadh and his father after they saw a large opportunity to increase the local processing capacity for cashews, 90% of which had historically been exported from Tanzania raw in the shell at low prices. YYTZ sources its nuts from smallholder farmers. After procurement, it brings the cashews to Zanzibar to process them into a variety of retail-ready products, including roasted cashews and cashew butter, for the East African as well as international market under YYTZ’s consumer brand, More Than Cashews. Read the full article.

4. Kenyan nutritious instant meal company targets the mass market

Tei Mukunya Oundo

As Kenyan consumers become more health conscious, NatureLock, a Nairobi-based instant meal company, is looking to address the gap in the market for quick, healthy food at a price point affordable to the mass market. “We felt our purpose was to commercially develop a manufacturing process to sell healthy, convenient and affordable food to as many people as possible,” explains Tei Mukunya Oundo, CEO of the company founded in 2020. Read the full article.

5. Fish sausages: Ugandan CEO taps into demand for fish products

Lovin Kobusingye

Kati Farms – based in Kampala, Uganda – produces a range of processed fish products. Founder and CEO Lovin Kobusingye started the company with an innovative product that became very popular: fish sausages. Today, Kati Farms has its own branded outlets and supplies the local and regional market with 17 different products. Read the full article. 

6. A macadamia nut business in Rwanda

Norce Elysee Gatarayiha

Norce Elysee Gatarayiha was working for a food research project under the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources in the late-1990s. At the time, the government wanted to strengthen exports and diversify agriculture and had a list of suggested new crops that could work for the country. Macadamia was included on that list and Gatarayiha seized the opportunity to open his own agribusiness venture. Today, Norelga produces and sells roasted and dried macadamia nuts, macadamia oil and lotion as well as several other products. Read the full article.

7. Supplying Carrefour with fruit and veg

Bobby Juuko (left), founder of Pure Grow Africa

Bobby Juuko has grown what started as a consulting company – providing training for farmers in Uganda – into a supplier of fresh fruit and vegetables to some of the largest hotels and supermarket chains in the country. Juuko knew many consumers in Uganda had ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables on their street corners. The opportunity existed in the premium high-quality market, supplying establishments such as hotels, schools and caterers. “We looked at solving the problems of these high-end consumers who need reliable and consistent quality suppliers,” he says. Read the full article.

8. How this Dutch entrepreneur built an organic agribusiness company in East Africa

Shares Uganda's processing facility outside the capital Kampala.

Shares Uganda’s processing facility outside the capital Kampala.

Agribusiness company Shares Uganda specialises in the export of three commodities from Uganda to Europe: chia seeds, sesame seeds and dried bird’s eye chilli peppers. For anyone interested in setting up an agricultural commodities business, founder Marck van Esch has some advice. “You have to establish if there is a demand in the market and the required standards for the raw commodity. Then create reliable supply from the farmers themselves, instead of buying from agents where you don’t have control over what is happening on the ground.” Read the full article.

9. Supplying fries to international fast-food chains: Kenyan company sees big potential

Humphrey Mburu

Although raw potatoes are grown across Africa, many of the most established foreign restaurants on the continent continue to source frozen produce from Europe and elsewhere. This presents a huge business opportunity for local firms that can meet the requirements of global fast-food chains, believes Humphrey Mburu, managing director of Kenya-based Sereni Fries. “It is an untapped market. Besides South Africa and Egypt, frozen chip factories in Africa are few and far between. There are a lot of new fast-food restaurants like KFC and Burger King setting up in Kenya. Many of them import from the Netherlands or Egypt. We think there is a gap in the market for locally produced frozen chips.” Read the full article.

10. Entrepreneur builds brand of drinks made from the hibiscus plant

Rena Beverages Solutions produces a range of hibiscus-based drinks.

When Regina Nakayenga started to experience hot flushes as she went through menopause, a friend recommended that taking hibiscus products would help. When her symptoms improved after taking hibiscus, the Ugandan entrepreneur decided to experiment with the hibiscus plant. Setting up Rena Beverage Solutions in 2010, hibiscus-based products are now the mainstay of her Ugandan drinks business. “They have become our cash cow. We have hibiscus juice, hibiscus powder and hibiscus wine. It is really selling,” says Nakayenga. Read the full story.

11. Kenya: Making money exporting the world’s most expensive nut

The Privamnuts factory.

The macadamia nut is the most expensive nut in the world, retailing at over $50 per kilogram. Patrick Mukundi Mbogo, who in 2010 was working in a bank in Nairobi, turned a small trading enterprise into one of Kenya’s largest macadamia exporters. “Currently we sell all of our product months in advance, and even if we processed to our full capacity 7,000 tonnes a year, the demand would still be much higher than our supply,” he says. Read the full article.