Five West African entrepreneurs capitalising on agribusiness opportunities

Felix Kamassah is the founder of Ghana-based agribusiness company Maphlix Trust.

Felix Kamassah is the founder of Ghana-based agribusiness company Maphlix Trust.

From locally-made baby food to providing cold storage to farmers and market merchants, these five entrepreneurs are taking advantage of West Africa’s agribusiness and food potential.

1. African baby food makers have an edge over foreign producers, says entrepreneur

Pascaline Nenda started a baby food company called Lemana in 2013 after noticing the absence of infant cereals in Cameroon. The company’s Blesolac range are made from a mix of soya-based raw materials sourced from Cameroon although wheat and powder milk are still imported. Nenda is trying to forge commercial ties with African milk producers and gradually increase the share of inputs supplied by Cameroonian or African partners to reduce costs for consumers. She says that African baby food makers have an advantage over foreign producers because they understand local eating habits and are less expensive than imported varieties. Read the full article

2. Linking Nigerian farmers with buyers: Start-up taps into ‘massive opportunity’

Zowasel, a start-up in Nigeria, has created a digital marketplace that connects small-scale farmers with buyers. The company’s CEO and co-founder, Jerry Oche, says that many Nigerian companies import commodities because it is difficult to procure the right quantity and quality of raw materials locally. Zowasel trains farmers in how to cultivate the correct varieties and handle the crops post-harvest. It then aggregates the commodities from its network of farmers to deliver to food processors and other buyers. Read the full article

3. Ghana: Farming business supplies KFC and exports to Europe

Ghana-based agribusiness company Maphlix Trust was founded by Felix Kamassah in 2013. Kamassah started the company after working as an economist in the banking sector and farming on the side. The company exports vegetables to markets like the UK and Dubai and supplies local companies such as KFC and Shoprite. In 2014, Maphlix participated in a trade fair in Germany with the assistance of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority. While there, Kamassah did market research to better understand European consumers and what they were interested in. Back in Ghana, he spent a year setting up the production of specific crops for which he identified demand in Germany. When he exhibited the company’s products at the fair the following year, he started receiving orders. Many of those original clients are still with the company today. Read the full article

4. African-inspired plantain chips brand eyeing the US market

While working in New York, Jamie D. Saleeby noticed a lack of African-inspired snacks on sale in local convenience stores, despite the demand for products that represent African heritage and culture. In 2017, Saleeby moved back to Ghana to set up Sankofa Snacks, a brand that produces six flavours of plantain chips. The chips are currently sold for around $0.80 per bag in supermarkets across Ghana, with plans to export to Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, and the US. The company buys plantain from smallholder farmers in three regions across Ghana and transports it to its factory in Accra. Sankofa Snacks has built its own distribution network to deliver the chips across Ghana. Read the full article

5. Pay-as-you-go cold storage: Businessman wants to expand beyond Nigeria

ColdHubs is a Nigerian company that operates solar-powered cold rooms, providing a pay-as-you-store service for fresh produce to smallholder farmers and market merchants. The company was founded by Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu. ColdHubs’ existing facilities can run for three days without full sunshine, using batteries and phase-change materials to store energy. Customers pay 200 Nigerian naira (about half a US dollar) to store fresh produce in a 20kg returnable plastic crate for one day. Read the full article