Four entrepreneurs taking Nigeria’s agri products global

Shalom Bako Dangombe started Afrivana, a business importing hibiscus flowers and shea butter from Nigeria to the US.

Shalom Bako Dangombe started Afrivana, a business importing hibiscus flowers and shea butter from Nigeria to the US.

We shed light on the entrepreneurial journeys of four individuals who are exporting Nigerian agricultural commodities to international markets.

1. Supplying the American market with Nigerian superfoods

Shalom Bako Dangombe, founder and managing director of Afrivana, a company that imports Nigerian commodities like hibiscus flowers and shea butter into the US, started his entrepreneurial journey when he saw a trade opportunity between the US and Nigeria. After initially attempting to distribute US fashion apparel in Nigeria, which ended in failure, he shifted his focus to exporting Nigerian commodities to the US.

In his search for the ideal commodity, he noticed the popularity of hibiscus tea in the US, sparking a childhood memory of selling the beverage in Nigeria. After facing numerous rejections while trying to find a buyer, Bako travelled to Mexico to make industry connections. Eventually, a company recognised his persistence and agreed to a trial container. To secure the supply, Bako partnered with smallholder farmers in Nigeria. Read the full article

2. Nigerian cassava: The next big thing in the US food market?

Shine Bridge Global, a US-based food science and agribusiness company, was established in 2018 by Dr Tony Bello, a native of Nigeria. The company specialises in creating products from cassava sourced in Nigeria.

In recent years, Shine Bridge Global has been focusing on converting high-quality cassava flour  into instant tapioca flakes. Tapioca is derived from the cassava root and the resulting flakes, according to Bello, have similar applications to potato flakes. Potato flakes are utilised as a food ingredient in the production of various commercially available items, such as pasta and snacks, and also serve as a thickener in gravies and desserts. The company is also in the process of developing a few other cassava-derived food products such as crackers, pizza crusts, ready-mix fufu, fried snacks and flatbreads – all using its tapioca flakes.

Shine Bridge Global has set its sights on launching both the tapioca flakes and the end-consumer packaged goods in the US and UK for a trial phase in the upcoming months. Following this, it plans to gradually scale up production, selling to consumer packaged goods companies and marketers. Read the full article

3. Unlocking Nigeria’s ginger export potential

Kenneth Obiajulu co-founded Agricorp International, a company that processes and exports Nigerian ginger. His experience in the field, including consulting for the World Bank, helped him recognise the untapped potential, particularly for ginger, which is a key crop in many Nigerian states. Despite Nigeria being responsible for 16% of the world’s ginger production, export revenues were notably low due to systemic inefficiencies and unregulated trade channels.

With a goal to rectify these inefficiencies, Agricorp International was built, focusing on drying ginger for longevity and providing support and training for smallholder farmers to increase their yields. The company sources ginger from over 5,000 smallholder farmers and processes it at a  plant in Kaduna. The focus is now 90% on exports, primarily to South Africa, India, Morocco and Dubai. Read the full article

4. Nigerian businessman grows agricultural trading business after securing first client through LinkedIn

Timi Oke started his entrepreneurial journey in 2012, when he was working at a bank in the UK. His interest in agriculture and trading led him to explore potential agricultural products for trade. After interacting on LinkedIn groups and attending trade fairs on the advice of an import-export trader, Oke secured his first client, an importer from Mexico, who requested five containers of dried hibiscus flowers.

Oke took a career break and set up AgroEknor with his brother and a friend. The initial order was fulfiled by crowdfunding and personal funds, procuring the hibiscus flowers from small-scale farmers in Nigeria’s northern states.

This initial success inspired Oke to quit his banking job and relocate to Nigeria to focus on the export business. The company started small, with 60 tonnes of hibiscus in the first year, doubling in the second year and reaching 540 tonnes in the third year. Early clients were primarily from Mexico, Latvia, Germany, and Belgium. Over time, Oke and his team secured necessary certifications to export to the EU and expanded into the US market. Read the full article