High quality grain

A textbook example of North-South cooperation

Founded in 2014, Rabboni Group Limited is a transport, distribution, trading and processing company of dry agricultural commodities. Their focus is on maize and derived products, in which they handle the entire supply chain from producer to consumer. A formula that works, but was ready to scale up: Rabboni wants to increase their grain processing and storage capacity from 4,000 to 20,000 tonnes as soon as possible, an ambitious goal that requires careful preparation.

Programme Coach
Wim De Deken

So, although Rabboni was already making great strides in homeland Uganda, they were looking for expertise regarding the qualitative and quantitative growth of their operations. By 2022, the time had come and Exchange partnered with Rabboni to address three needs: branding, marketing and quality control. After a feasibility study in February 2022, it became clear that branding and marketing were not a main focus, and Rabboni's needs shifted to two elements: reviewing operational practices, corporate culture and quality control, with the aim of achieving ISO 9001 & 22000 certification (quality), and building a new process plant, including silos capable of accommodating increased grain production (quantity).

Quality control

To get quality control (QA) on point within Rabboni, a number of grain company employees attended training sessions around quality and certification. Based on the training, structural changes were implemented in the company: not only were processes optimised, Rabboni even decided to rebuild their facilities from scratch, fully compliant with professional quality standards.

Those quality standards are essential for scaling up their production. The natural toxin Aflatoxin is common and very dangerous for grain production; if the grain is treated poorly, it can lead to contaminated products and carcinogens. This quality control naturally starts with the farmer himself, but it is essential for Rabboni to have its own plant to check the grain samples; that is why the company built its own laboratory, which is up to date with contemporary quality standards thanks in part to quality training.

Factory expansion

With the help of coach Wim de Deken, contact was made with Belgium's Meyland, which could supply four silos to Rabboni's specifications. A commercial proposal was made, but the investment was too expensive for the grain processing company for the time being. At Meyland's invitation and supported by Exchange, CEO Daniel Joloba came to Belgium for a week to meet some investors and visit the Bulk Solids Expo in Antwerp.

The purpose of the visit? To find alternative funding for silo installation and convince investors, both at the hardware and sales level, to invest in Rabboni. Traditional financing in Uganda is feasible, but would be a process of at least 25 years; time that Rabboni does not have if they want to scale up their production to such an extent. Local grain farmers have to be paid cash and grain cannot be sold immediately; so Rabboni needs enough funds to buy grain and store it long enough - without letting it degenerate - before it can be profitable.

An ambitious goal, then, but not unachievable. With the right funding, Rabboni can install the necessary technology to scale up their production at lightning speed. A win-win situation: not only will Rabboni be less dependent on third parties and be able to become a major player within Uganda themselves, the family income of local farmers will also increase. Combine this with the exchange of expertise, training and funding from Europe, and you have the perfect example of a sustainable North-South collaboration.

Flanders and Exchange go hand in hand in Malawi

Twice illustrated

Flemish Development Cooperation supports the improvement of agriculture in the northern part of Malawi with its SEED program. We at Exchange have an excellent relationship with Flanders and are looking for ways how - complementary to what Flanders is doing - we can further strengthen a number of projects. In a nutshell, that complementarity means that Flanders supports those initiatives financially, while Exchange helps SMEs grow by transferring expertise and knowledge. Two examples of how this works:

Hortinet, a daring experiment ripe for a Nobel Prize.

Frankie Washoni is CEO of Hortinet, an organisation that wants to stop the decline of Malawi's banana crop. Malawi was an exporter of bananas until the ‘Banana bunchy top’ disease destroyed up to 80% of Malawi's banana production. Frankie sought support to do something about this and found his answers mainly through Google: he promptly built the first commercial lab in Malawi that produced virus-free bananas via tissue culture. This was very successful for six months; thousands of virus-free banana plants found their way to as many as 600 farmers. Production picked up again, thanks in part to the financial support Frankie received from Flanders.

Programme Coach
Jan Aertsen

But suddenly everything stopped; the laboratory itself did not remain virus-free. Exchange coach Jan Aertsen visited the company in March 2022 and started looking for solutions together with Frankie. He contacted Professor Ronny Swinnen, a man with unique expertise in the field. Prof. Swinnen put us in touch with Delphine Amah, whom he trained and who worked at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture - IITA - in Nigeria. Exchange invited Amah to share her knowledge with Hortinet, and she did just that. During her visit in August 2022, the Hortinet lab was able to start up again and arrangements were made to give the Malawian staff additional training in Nigeria. Today there are more than 2,000 farmers on the waiting list, ready to restore banana production in Malawi and stop imports from Tanzania and Mozambique - which sinds the collapse of local production accounts for more than 90% of Malawi's banana consumption.


Ziweto stops import of expensive fodder

Ziweto is a collective of about a dozen veterinarians that distributes veterinary medicine throughout Malawi's territory, thanks in part to financial support from Flanders. But Ziweto sees another opportunity to make a leap forward concerning Malawian livestock farming: the collective wants to make and distribute livestock feed using local raw materials, so that livestock farmers do not remain dependent on expensive, imported feed.

Programme Coach
Guy Callebaut

Following a visit by Exchange coach Guy Callebaut to Ziweto earlier this year, Exchange was able to persuade a few experts at AVEVE to put their shoulders to the wheel: Marcel Christianen, who was commercially responsible for animal feed at AVEVE until his retirement, and his friend Dirk Bogaerts, who works at AVEVE as the person ultimately responsible for the composition of various nutritional formulas.

An effective brew

At the end of July this year, Marcel Christianen also visited Ziweto. He kept his intervention very focused, specifically on the production of feeds for laying hens, fattening chickens and fattening pigs. This visit was a great success across the board. To illustrate:

  • There was already an industrial mill at Ziweto, but it was not yet functioning. Together with the technicians of Ziweto, the mill was put into operation;
  •  With online backup from Dirk Bogaerts, three effective formulas were composed and produced;
  • A suitcase full of samples of the produced feed was taken for analysis to the lab of AVEVE in Belgium. Ziweto itself already has a number of devices to perform that analysis: by comparing the results in Belgium with those in Malawi, the accuracy of Ziweto's measuring devices can be verified;
  • Preparations have been made for a training of two central staff in Belgium later this year.

Or how Exchange plays a role on two fronts to mix things up successfully: on the one hand, we mix Flemish funding with expertise from AVEVE and with the enthusiasm and expertise of Ziweto's veterinarians, while on the other hand, locally produced soybeans, sunflower seeds and maize are brought together in high-quality animal feeds.

Clearly a win-win situation: a revenue model for Ziweto, with the end product being affordable cattle feed for many Malawian cattle farmers.

 

Wood Habitat, a promising company!

 

 

Programme Coach
Robert Myncke
Experten Team
Philippe Vandorpe
Bedrijfspartner
Register your company to become a partner!

Personal project becomes professional company

 

Wood Habitat was founded by the young female entrepreneur Paradis Imfura. It all started as a personal project but quickly developed into a professional company with a good reputation. Paradis uses local materials and focuses on creative designs and quality details. Because she is very open towards a close collaboration with her customers, the demand for beautiful locally produced furniture keeps increasing. In 2015 Wood Habitat started with its own wood workshop focusing on custom made furniture designs. Recently Wood Habitat also started producing doors and interior accessories.

Wood Habitat provides jobs to 40 people and trains a big number of young people. At least 30% of its employees is in training. Trainees get offered a permanent contract after finishing their traineeship. Wood Habitat offers decent jobs: permanent employees receive several social advantages.

What do you want to do ?

Big ambitions, intense growth programme

The ambition of Paradis is big: towards 2024 she wants to at least triple Wood Habitats turnover and create not less than 120 stable jobs. Except for Rwanda she also wants to sell her furniture on the Congolese, Ugandese, Kenian en Burundese market. She also aims to get a great client satisfaction: selling a product means the start of a profound client relation. She also would like to be the first in the East African Community (EAC) to sell upholstered furniture. Until now, all upholstered furniture is imported from outside EAC.

To reach this ambition Wood Habitat will have to improve several domains in the company: the production speed and the quality has to progress, if Wood Habitat wants to maintain and enlarge its clientele.

The growth progamme will focus on quality control: there is a need of quality templates for each product and technical sheets for intermediate check. Also cost control will be addressed: for each product there will be an estimation of work time and material. The teams of Wood Habitat will also get a specific training: the goal is to have a specialised team for each of the products but also have teams responsible for specific departments in the company, like waste management, security and cleanness, energy and resources. The Exchange coach Robert Myncke will help Paradis to achieve her goals. Also the use and maintenance of wood machinery will be checked by an Exchange wood expert. Exchange will also look for an upholstery expert to give Paradis a specific training on this topic.

The entire Exchange team is looking forward to this promising and very diverse growth programme!

Custom made furniture designs

in Rwanda

Informative radio helps farmers move forward!

 

Farm Radio Trust

Programme Coach
Johan Cottenie
Company Partner
Register your company as a candidate!

Farm Radio Trust is an organization that fosters rural and agricultural development in Malawi through the use of radio and other information and communications technologies (ICTs). In Malawi the agricultural sector accounts for one third of the GDP and 90% of export revenues. With 80% of the population living in rural areas, the vast majority of Malawians support their livelihoods with farming activities. With a very limited number of commercial farms, Malawi is a country of small farmers. The government support for farming families is mainly focused on large scale input subsidy programmes. Farmer education and agricultural information services are, however, very limited. The government subsidizes only 1 extension worker for 3900 farming families, while the recommended ratio is 1 out of 500. In 2009 Farm Radio Trust Malawi, a branch of Farm Radio International, was founded. The organization uses innovative methods to reach the Malawian farming populations. Because the spoken word is the most effective way to reach an illiterate or poorly literate population and all households have a radio, Farm Radio Trust uses participatory radio programmes to reach the farming population. The radio programmes are combined with other information channels (SMS services, whatsapp messages, call center) to educate and strengthen Malawian farmers. In 2018 FRT reached an audience of 4 million farmers.

Financial sustainability

In terms of finances Farm Radio Trust is at a crossroad. Although the organization delivers services that are in fact government responsibilities (extension services, farmer education) the organisation doesn’t receive any government funding. Instead several international donors support FRT with grants (USAID, Flemish Government, Farm Radio International). Nevertheless Farm Radio Trust faces the challenge to become less dependent on donor funding and develop financial sustainability.

 

For Farm Radio Trust it's key to develop a new and innovative vehicle for income generation. Needless to say, the organization will safeguard its mission and focus on strengthening the position of smallholder farmers. Since the financial capacities of farming families are very low it is unlikely that a focus on small farmers as paying clients will generate sufficient income. Therefore, income generation stands high on the agenda! Together with Exchange a pragmatic and innovative commercial strategy will be developed.

Commercial agriculture for young farmers

 

Acades

Company partner
Register your company as a candidate!

Malawi is a real agricultural nation. 80% of the population lives in rural areas en agriculture accounts for one third of the GDP and 90% of export earnings. The agricultural sector in Malawi is mostly small scale en hardly mechanized or industrialized. Most emerging entrepreneurs don’t see agriculture as an attractive sector.

Innovation and diversification

At the same time Malawian agriculture urgently needs innovation and diversification. Exactly what Acades tackles. The organization stimulates young entrepreneurs in agribusiness. Acades facilitates market access for young farmers, offers small loans, organizes events and trainings and founded the Green Innovation Center, an incubator for innovation in agriculture. Acades is a young organization that achieved a lot with limited resources and a small team. Its growth ambitions for the next years are challenging.

 

Acades wants to realize more market acces for young farmers and wants to convert its loan fund into a professional MFI. To professionalize Acades organizational capacities will be crucial. With elaborate coaching and by further developing and strengthening the current partnership between Acades en Groene Kring (the youth organization of the Belgian farmers union) Exchange will support Acades toward growth. To see more young farmers transforming Malawian agriculture, that’s a goal we believe in!

Delicious and nutritious yogurt for young families

 

Kombeza

Programme Coach
Hilde Schuddinck
Company partner
Register your company as a candidate!

Kombeza Foods is a young dairy company founded by a dynamic entrepreneur and young mother. The fact that nutritious and locally produced dairy products are hardly available in Malawi inspired her to develop a local, nutritious and tasty product.

The Kombeza drinking yoghurt was launched. After the first successful years the company now stands at a crossroad. Currently, the factory building is being expanded to substantially enlarge the production capacity. A challenging process which Exchange will be glad to support. Hilde Schuddinck is, as Manager Account and Young Entrepreneurship at VOKA East Flanders, the ideal coach to guide this programme in the future.

Challenges to feast on

Moving the production to a new building and simutanuously raising the production volumes is challenging. A thorough assessment of the production process and optimizing the process is an important step (constant supply of quality milk, process management and efficiency).

Moreover, product diversification (developing new products and recipes) and training of staff members are central elements of the growth programme. Kombeza is a typical local expression. It refers to something so delicious that there will never be any leftovers. A growth programme that promotes local products and herewith strengthens the local economic growth, that's something to feast on!

Inex, a family run dairy company with a sustainable vision shares its knowledge

in Rwanda

Fighting malnutrition with affordable food!

Sesaco Ltd.

Programme Coach
Robert Myncke
Expert Team
Eugene Nicolaes
Company partner
Register your company as a candidate!
Just like in many Sub-Saharan African countries, a large part of the Ugandan population suffers from malnutrition. According to Broederlijk Delen, around 25% of Ugandans are malnourished. Although the country is known for its fertile soil and is sometimes referred to as the food source of East Africa, the prices of the food produced often turn out to be too high for the poorest layers of the local population.

A company with a clear mission

The mission of Sesaco Ltd. responds perfectly to this need for affordable and nutritious food. The company, located in Kampala, specializes in producing soy products with a high nutritional value. The focus of the food company is specifically on the lowest layers of the population. That is precisely why the products of Sesaco Ltd. are sold at the lowest possible prices.

A large part of the products are supplied to international aid organizations that are committed to the many refugees in the country. Consequently, Sesaco is also contributing to the most basic need of this vulnerable group.

Factory with growth potential

More than 100 people are employed at the factory of Sesaco. Often women, often low- or unskilled. Deploying these people more efficiently in the production process could mean a substantial increase in production. This represents a major opportunity for both the company and society in a still unsaturated market. That is why Sesaco received access to the Yield Uganda Investment Fund of the European Union. A second investment from the fund, for the modernization and automation of a new plant, can be obtained after a positive evaluation of the growth results.

To achieve this, Exchange and Sesaco are entering into a partnership with the aim of achieving positive growth results. One of the possible routes that can be explored is the creation of a line with new premium products that will also appeal to the middle class of Uganda. Improving efficiency and setting up a well-thought marketing campaign are also promising possibilities. In addition to Exchange, KPMG will also guide the process. More than enough reasons to believe in a successful scale-up of this social company!

opportunities-in-a-growing-market

Opportunities in a growing market

in Uganda

World: get ready for a delicious cup of tea from Malawi!

Satemwa Tea Malawi

Programme Coach
Lara Donners
Company partners
STOP Spices! Image result for icon link
Comma, merkenmarketeers Image result for icon link

Satemwa Tea Estate is a Malawian SME that was founded in 1923. The company produces quality teas and has an undeniably sustainable character. Satemwa was the first Malawian tea company to be awarded a Fair Trade certificateAs well as this, the company has also achieved Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certification. It has emerged as a pioneer in the area of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in Malawi. Satemwa has stimulated the employment of women and manages its own hospital and school for employees (and their children) and the population of the surrounding communities. With more than 1,300 employees - 800 more in the harvest season - the tea company creates a lot of jobs and plays a role in the Malawian economy that cannot be underestimated. Plus, every year, Satemwa supports 130 students in higher education through awarded study grants. Finally, it is also a corporate member of the UN Global Compact. Talk about a sustainable pioneer!  

Satemwa has developed a ‘direct trade partnership’ with the Msuwadzi Small Holder Tea Growers Association. For ten years, Satemwa has worked closely with the group of 198 independent tea farmers (92 of whom are women) in the production of Speciality Teas. This collaboration led to the association, under the guidance of Satemwa, being Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certified. A so-called out grower manager from Satemwa trains the members of the association in innovative picking techniques, production techniques and capacity development. The collaboration has led to the establishment of the tea brand YAMBA tea that is sold in Malawi and neighbouring countries.  

Certification as a road to new opportunities

Approximately 90% of the tea produced by Satemwa is black tea. Every year, approximately 2,500 tonof tea is sold to major tea brands, such as Lipton, Pickwick and Twinings. By investing more in Specialty Teas and by further processing the tea into green, oolong, white and herbal teas, the small farmers can offer high-value products to richer markets in Europe and the United States. Satemwa wants to create maximum added product value in the country of origin.  

There is no specific certification needed for the sale of black tea to major brands. Large multinationals themselves perform quality testing in their own laboratories. The same applies to the sale of tea under an own brand name, such as with YAMBA tea.

 

With the Specialty TeasSatemwa is aiming more at the international market. And that is where international food safety standards do come into play. Not a single tea-producing company in Malawi has been able to achieve an international food safety certificate thus far. For Satemwa, this is an excellent opportunity that would put them on the tea-lover’s map.  

A certification is not only interesting for Satemwa employees, but also for the Msuwadzi Small Holders Association. It would allow them to process and pack Speciality Tea and their own YAMBA brand in a certified environment. That would open the doors to export to countries further afield.  

Sustainable and organic

Besides internationalisation and certification, Satemwa has now set its sights on organic tea production. Complementing the traditional tea market, which is competitive and operates with small margins, Satemwa wants to carve out a niche with organic tea. Through their satellite in Boechout, started as a one-man business but now an office with three employees, Satemwa can attend trade fairs in the United States, the Netherlands and Germany, among others, and seek expertise and knowledge around organic production.

 

Naturally, a quest for expertise is music to Exchange's ears. We put Satemwa in touch with UGent professor Stefaan De Neve, expert in guiding farmers in their quest for organic production. In addition, Satemwa is now also looking at Mozambique, where one of our BDMs exports bat fertiliser to South Africa with his company GuanoMoz. Just 400 kilometres from Satemwa, a collaboration between these two southern companies would be optimal.

Belgian partners!

Two Flemish companies are convinced to assist Satemwa in its growth ambitions. Stop Spices, a company of herbs and spices from Dendermonde, shares its expertise on certification, digitalisation and packaging technology. Comma merkenmarketeers, a marketing agency from Zedelgem, coaches Satemwa in developing a specific marketing strategy for the European market.

 

The official certification is well within sight. The international market may quietly start looking forward to a delicious cup of Specialty Tea. Planted, picked and processed in Malawi, The Warm Heart of Africa!

Comma, Merkenmarketeers designs Marketing Plan for Malawian tea company

in Malawi

Kleine landbouwers omscholen tot agripreneurs dat is de missie van Gudie Leisure Farm (Oeganda).

Social entrepreneurship and sustainable farming companies: a booming business in Uganda!

Gudie Leisure Farm

Programme Coach
Katy Vancoillie
Expert Team
Johan Borghys 
Marieke De Vos 
Company partner
Register your company as a candidate!

From small farmer to clever entrepreneur

 

Gudie Leisure Farm (GLF) is a city farm located in the suburbs of Kampala. As a social business, GLF wants to train smallholder farmers to become true agricultural entrepreneurs: agripreneurs. GLF developed the ‘Agripreneur Champions System’. This gives farmers practical training at the city farm or their own farmsAs well as on areas such as poultry, pig farming, aqua culture and greenery, the highly practical training focuses on business-related subjects that guarantee the sustainable growth of the agro-companies.   

Since it was founded in 2009, the social business has trained at least 63,720 farmers. In addition, the company carried out an assignment in the context of livestock management for the Belgian development agency Enabel. Mastercard Foundation also firmly believes in the potential of Gudie Leisure Farm and therefore decided to offer the agricultural school long-term financial support!

A passionate entrepreneur behind the wheel

Standing at the head of the GLF is inspiring entrepreneur Gudula Naiga BasazaThe general manager of GLF received a doctorate from Ghent UniversityShe has always been led by her two greatest passions: educating people and contributing to the improvement of the social and economic circumstances in Uganda. In 2017, she was nominated by Vital Voices as one of the hundred most influential women on the African continent.

GLF as the agricultural training institution

The ultimate dream of GLF is to become an open university for agriculture in Uganda. To reach that goal, the organisation first wants to focus on the construction of a fully functional training centre. GLF is adamant that they are recognised for the superior quality of their training and education courses. As such, Exchange and GLF are working together to set out a growth programme that will allow their ambitious goals to be fulfilled. As GLF is driven by passion and social engagementExchange is also convinced that the growth programme will not just lead to positive economic consequences for GLF itself, but will indirectly deliver improved socio-economic conditions for the smaller farmers in Uganda. 

Say ‘Cheers’, to social fruit juices!

Delight (U) Ltd.

Programme Coach
Jos Craemers
Company partner
Register your company as a candidate!

Profit and social engagement go hand in hand 

Delight (U) Ltd. is a private business that has been producing and selling fruit juices on the Ugandan market since 1996. Under the name ‘Cheers’, you’ll undoubtedly find their fresh juices in all local supermarkets. One to remember!  

The administrative centre of the company is in Kampala, but the actual corporate activity takes place in the Nwoya district in North Uganda.  

The presence of Delight in the region has a clear social and economic impact on the local society. Together with the Danish group aBi Trust, the juice producer is the driving force behind the establishment of the Nwoya Fruit Growers Cooperative Society. This is a cooperative that brings various groups of small farmers together in ‘grower groups’. Thanks to the establishment of the Growers Cooperative, the local farmers receive a fair price for their products. This is an important step forward in the fight against poverty. And it’s happening in an area that was ravaged by the Lord’s Resistance Army not long ago. 

Thanks to its social work for the North Ugandan region, Delight has been included in the prestigious list of ‘Companies to Inspire Africa 2019. 

A big step towards self-sufficiency

In 2019Delight began a collaboration with UDC, the government authority for agricultural development, for the construction of a new factory in the Nwoya district. The new factory will be an important move for Delight. Every step in the production chain will be included in the company’s own operations. Delight will cultivate and grow its own fruit, partly via a partnership with the Nwoya Fruit Growers Cooperative Society. Delight will be able to process the fruit into juice itself and take care of the distribution and sale of the juices on its own. In doing so, both Delight and the government hope to become more independent from neighbouring companies that currently control a great part of the market. 

Cooperative as a lifeline

To ensure sufficient supply of fruit to the factory, good coordination between Delight and the Nwoya Fruit Growers Cooperative is crucial. Exchange will act as a facilitator in this relationship. For example, we will set up a post-harvesting system in collaboration with the cooperative to get a correct estimate of the harvest. Furthermore, the Delight training center will be used to further train the cooperative and logistical issues will be dealt with. In this way, Delight can continue to live up to its reputation as a smart company. Where profit and social engagement go together.

Nieuws: Marketingstrategie voor hotelschool - Exchange vzw.

Preparing fruit growers for the market

in Uganda