Eight entrepreneurs who’ve spotted opportunities in Africa’s fruit industry

From exporting dried fruit to Europe to producing juices for the domestic market, these businesspeople are taking advantage of gaps in Africa’s fruit industry.

1. Strawberry farming in Zambia: How this entrepreneur grew her business

Bupe Chipili Mulapesi

Bupe Chipili Mulapesi

Farm23 Strawberry started growing the fruit in 2009 after founder Bupe Chipili Mulapesi, a strawberry lover herself, couldn’t find any on the supermarket shelves in Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka. Using book knowledge only, the company began with 20 plants. Today, 96,000 plants strong, Farm23 provides both the domestic and export markets with fresh Alinta strawberries as well as a strawberry jam. Read the full article

2. Ghana’s Catherine Krobo Edusei capitalised on demand for high-end fresh produce

Catherine Krobo Edusei

When Catherine Krobo Edusei first took her freshly grown herbs to the local supermarket in Accra, the manager didn’t know what they were. Ghana, like many African countries, imports large volumes of food products and the dried, imported variety of herbs were the only kind people knew. Two decades later, her company is one of the biggest suppliers not just of fresh herbs, but also spices, fruit and vegetables. Read the full article

3. Nigeria: Taking local foods global, starting with African breadfruit (ukwa)

Dried ukwa produced by Phronesis Foods.

Dried ukwa produced by Phronesis Foods.

Chichi Eriobu, founder and CEO of Phronesis Foods, saw a gap in the market to produce packaged African breadfruit products for consumers in Nigeria and beyond. African breadfruit – locally known as ukwa in the Igbo language – is an edible fruit grown and eaten mainly in southeastern Nigeria. The seeds of the fruit are consumed for their high nutritional value. Phronesis Foods currently sells four ukwa products: dried ukwa, roasted ukwa snacks, ukwa poundo and ukwa flour. Read the full article

4. Creating a fruit juice business in Sierra Leone: The story of Sierra Juice

Sierra Juice is manufactured from locally-sourced fruit.

For several months a year in Sierra Leone, pineapples and mangoes fall from trees by the tonnes. But without an easy route to market or efficient storage facilities, they are often left to rot, with the growers eking out a subsistence on what little they can sell by the roadside or in local markets.

In 2013, Hamza Hashim set about creating an organic juice company as a way to take advantage of these unused fruits. Sierra Juice has become one of the country’s most ubiquitous brands. With more than 5,000 farmers supplying fresh produce to the company, its drinks are sold by formal and informal vendors at virtually every traffic jam and street corner in the country. Read the full article

5. ‘An uphill battle’: Entrepreneur explains how she built a dried fruit snacks brand in Nigeria

Affiong Williams

In 2012, after moving back to Nigeria from South Africa where she had lived for 12 years, Affiong Williams began gauging the Nigerian market to see if dried fruit snacks would be a viable product. She used fruit brought in from South Africa, packaged it and handed it to prospective customers. At the time, this type of snack was relatively unknown in the country, with no other local producers doing it at scale. After a challenging start, the ReelFruit brand is now available in over 350 stores and a handful of export markets. Read the full article

6. 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

7. How this entrepreneur went where nobody goes to start dried fruit business in Mozambique

Mozambique-based fruit-drying business AfriFruta’s processing facility.

In a remote area of Mozambique, with little infrastructure and a dearth of educated workers, Jaco le Roux created a dried fruit business from scratch. AfriFruta currently produces a variety of dried fruit – including mango, pineapple, papaya and banana – as well as several coconut-related products. All the products are organic and the company benefits from growing consumer demand for health foods. The bulk of the dried fruit is exported to Europe – mostly the Netherlands and Germany. Read the full article

8. Zambian entrepreneur’s agro-processing bet pays off

Chankwakwa’s dried mango product.

Dorothy Eriksson and her husband Rolf, who is originally from Sweden, ran a successful commercial farm, Chankwakwa, in Kabwe, Zambia, from the 1970s through to the 1990s. But towards the end of the ‘90s, the economy faced severe challenges and the family struggled to keep the farm. One day, Eriksson visited the local fresh produce market. Many of the mangoes that vendors were trying to sell were about to go rotten as the supply far outstripped demand. She realised there was an opportunity to process the fruit into different value-added products. The dream for Chankwakwa’s agro-processing factory was born and today, the company exports dried mango to Europe and supplies jams, sauces, dried fruits, honey and soya products to various supermarket chains throughout Zambia, including Shoprite and Pick n Pay. Read the full article