Wood Habitat, a promising company!

 

 

Programme Coach
Robert Myncke
Experten Team
Philippe Vandorpe
Bedrijfspartner
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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

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High standard dairy products for Rwanda

Blessed Dairies

Programme Coach
Catherine Gilain-Pycke
Bedrijfspartners
Inex Image result for icon link

Rwanda, the ideal dairy country

Rwanda is an ideal country for dairy production thanks to its stable climate and good infrastructure. Milk collection centres are located all over the country and a lot of Rwandese have their own cattle.

Rwandan entrepreneur Milton Ngirente installed in 2004 several milk kiosks in the city of Kigali where people could buy raw milk produced by farmers’ cooperatives. But he quickly noticed a lot of surpluses, so he started with a small production unit in 2012. A few years later the dairy company Blessed Dairies was born. Nowadays Blessed Dairies sells and distributes several milk products in Rwanda. Thanks to the production of various milk products such as pasteurized milk, cream, mozzarella and yoghurt, Milton can create added value. Nevertheless the company still faces a lot of challenges, that’s why Milton contacted one of our Business Development Managers to ask for Exchange support.

Feasibility study by Flemish dairy company Inex

In August 2019 Milton Ngirente was very happy to welcome Catherine Gilain-Pycke to conduct a feasibility study at Blessed Dairies. Catherine is the managing director of Inex  and was one of the leading persons to develop this Flemish family company into one of the biggest players in dairy business in Belgium.

After a positive feasibiliy study Catherine decided to get involved in this new Exchange Growth Programme with Blessed Dairies as a coach. In October 2019 Milton Ngirente traveled to Bavegem to see the impressive production unit of Inex. Milton and Catherine also made a first draft of the growth programme.

Growht programma with several goals

The growth programme with Blessed Dairies that started at the beginning of 2020 has several objectives: first of all the strategic management and the marketing plan of Blessed Dairies needs an update. Also the improvement of the quality management will be a main issue to address. Blessed Dairies also wants to improve its processes and production techniques. Last but not least Inex will also advice Blessed Dairies regarding the ideal machines for dairy production and the lay out of the new production unit.

The first phase of the growth programme has been finished. Evariste Mariyamungu was welcomed by Inex in January 2020 for an intensive internship of 10 days. Inex provided an interesting programme tailormade to the objectives of Blessed Dairies. In 2020 Blessed Dairies is now taking action with all the lessons learned to improve Blessed Dairies. Inex is available at any time for advice and will support Blessed Dairies from a distance. In 2021 we will evaluate if a second coaching mission by Catherine is necessary and if any specific expertise is needed by Blessed Dairies. To be continued!

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

in Rwanda

INEX
Inex, producer of drinking milk, yogurt and cream, is a fourth-generation family business and a pioneer in sustainability. With an annual production of 240 million liters and more than 400 employees, this company represents a great social commitment. Inex has its own solar energy park, is working on reducing CO2, saving water and ecological transport. In addition, animal welfare is a priority with special attention to pasture milk. By monitoring the sustainability of its suppliers, Inex is also an inspirator and role model.

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Reduce, reuse & recycle

3R

Programme Coach
Vincent Van Horenbeeck
Compnany partner
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Mozambique produces 3.5 million tons of waste per year, i.e. an average of 120 kilograms per inhabitant per year, around 9 thousand tons per day throughout the country. Only 2% of this waste receives adequate treatment today. The remaining 98% of waste still goes directly to landfills and causes environmental and public health problems.

However, with the right attitude, waste can even be properly assessed as a resource, a material that can be recovered and made into new products.

Therefore, concrete work is being done by 3R, or "Reduzir, Reusar e Reciclar Limitada" (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle) in the cities of Maputo, Beira and Vilanculos. 3R provides integrated waste management services for extensive and large organizations and builds waste processing infrastructure throughout Mozambique. Her vision is the creation of a clean environment for current and future generations through the transformation of the waste sector in Mozambique.

Ecology & Job Security

At the moment, waste is sorted at the source as much as possible and collected both from the large companies and from the "Ecopoints", 3R's collection points which are strategically spread over the city and its suburbs.

Together with its 50 employees, 3R also provides indirect job security to the now more than 1000 collectors in the city. 3R's transformation of the waste sector will give the least-favored Mozambicans a full-fledged job and make the environment cleaner for current and future generations.

Moreover, materials such as PET, HDP and aluminum can now get a new life. In a next phase, even more waste streams will be included in this recycling circuit, such as liquid and medical waste.

Under the guidance of coach Vincent van hoorbeeck, managing partner of 'Impala', a collaboration between 3R and Exchange has recently started with the aim of building up at least 3 waste processing facilities and achieving a full ISO quality certification that allows them to grow to a medium sized company. In addition, 3R also wants to convert PET into reusable products (tiles, packaging straps, building blocks, ...) for sale on the local / regional market as an alternative source of income. We wish 3R, our coach and team of experts every success!

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Fighting malnutrition with affordable food!

Sesaco Ltd.

Programme Coach
Robert Myncke
Expert Team
Eugene Nicolaes
Company partner
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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

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Bike out of extreme poverty

Mozambikes

Programme Coach
Marc Frederix
Expert Team
Gert-Jan Bakx
Company partner
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Half of the population of Mozambique is forced to live on less than two dollars a day. Furthermore, much of the population needs to walk hours a day to go to school or to reach sources of drinkable water or arable land. Almost 80% of the population are farmers who live off the products they sell locally. Their daily income and their professional productivity are simply dependent on what they can carry or how quickly they can move with their goods. A bike can therefore have an enormous impact on their daily lives. A huge benefit to education and trade, and as such, a very efficient escape from extreme poverty.  

Mozambikes is bike producer in Mozambique with an outspoken social ambition. Using bikes, Mozambikes wants to make basic needs more accessible and, in doing so, fight poverty. People who live below the poverty line can gain access to a bike of their own via Mozambikes. The system works with donations, sponsored bikes and micro-credits.  

Socially doers

Mozambikes is the only bike factory in Mozambique, a country with 28 million residents. Rui and Lauren, the founders of Mozambikes, are driven entrepreneurs in various sectors. Mozambikes is the product of a clear social ambition: making a tool available that will help the rural population realise their dreams and ambitions.  

With a team of 25 employees, Mozambikes produces one single type of bike: they are sturdy and specially designed for rural areasThe organisation is thus providing employment for young people who may become bicycle makers.  

 

Mozambikes has ambitionThe organisation wants to expand its role as a social company, increase production and establish a larger distribution network. The model may even be exported to neighbouring countries such as Malawi (where Exchange is also activeand partnerships with foreign partners are also possible. 

Exchange has a lot of faith in this social growth programme. It demonstrates how a simple idea can be a gigantic step up for people in poverty. Bike-crazy Flemish as we are, this is a growth programme that’s close to our hearts.  

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What’s garbage for one is energy for another

Agruni

Programme Coach
Wouter Janssens
Expert Team
Anne Vandeputte
Company partner
Ecowerf Image result for icon link

The secret behind the clean streets of Kigali

Anyone who visits the Rwandan capital Kigali will be hard-pressed not to notice their immaculate streets. Through public tenders, the government selects private companies to ensure the cleanliness of the city. They pick up, collect and process industrial, domestic and street garbage throughout the cityAgruni is one such company, beginning their work in 2002. And today, Agruni is picking up at least three-quarters of the domestic and industrial garbage in Kigali. 

Waste gives agriculture an extra boost!

But it doesn't stop there. Agruni's main ambition is to focus on what happens after waste collection. Part of the non-organic waste is already being recovered and reused, but 80% of the waste collected is of an organic nature and nothing is being done with it at the moment. Agruni's future lies in valorising this organic waste. And what can a country where 90% of the population depend on agriculture make good use of? Correct: compost!

Expertise from the pioneering region Flanders

At Agruni, waste sorting is currently still done by hand on the Nduba dump site. Of course, the organic waste is already 'contaminated' by non-organic waste, making it difficult to make a solid compost from it. It has been proven that compost, provided the correct composition, increases the harvest significantly.

In this growth programme, Exchange will therefore mainly focus on the realization of usable compost on the basis of the collected organic waste. And let that be just one of the areas of expertise in which Flanders plays a pioneering role.

For example, we find a great deal of knowledge at the inter-municipal environmental company Ecowerf in East Brabant. For many years, Ecowerf has been responsible for waste prevention, waste collection and waste processing in 27 municipalities and cities. The company has also achieved a great deal in the domain of composting. Therefore, Exchange Coach Wouter Janssens, from Ecowerf, is extremely well placed to take on this role.

To further optimize the entire chain of operations, Exchange is also working with Agruni to see how current waste collection and transport can be organized even more efficiently.

Agruni and social innovation

Agruni is highly noted for its modern HRM policy and social commitments. Outside of the fact that half of the 1,800 employees are female, the company works with a savings fund. Vulnerable and sick employees are still guaranteed incomes. Plus, it offers a micro-financing formula to its own personnel. As a result, they can access loans that are more beneficial than those available through traditional channels. Agruni also supports a range of social projects every year, helping it to be recognised as an eminently sustainable company.  

The growth programme with Agruni has great potential: Mr Jean-Paul Shiraniro is a born entrepreneur with plenty of daring. Together with Exchange and Ecowerf, Agruni can ensure that Rwanda can further build on its image as a clean country. The great dream of recycling and valorizing all the collected waste remains. And where there’s a will (and a dream), there’s a way!  

rwandan-waste-company-receives-support-from-pioneer-region-flanders

Rwandan waste company receives support from pioneer region Flanders

in Rwanda

ECOWERF
Ecowerf is an inter-municipal environmental company that is responsible for the waste policy of 27 municipalities and cities in East-Brabant, Belgium. Together with those cities and municipalities, Ecowerf is resolutely opting for a sustainable and integral waste policy, a policy that is innovative and plans for the future!
The ambition of the company is far-reaching: Ecowerf wants to be the absolute trendsetter in the field of waste management in Flanders. Limiting the environmental impact of their activities is more important than making a profit.
ecowerf-organiseert-intensieve-stage-voor-rwandees-bedrijf

EcoWerf organizes intensive internship for Rwandan partner company

in Rwanda

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Stronger together for fair trade

Katikamu Poultry Co-operative 

Programme Coach
Noël Keersebilck
Expert Team
André Mouton
Koen De Praetere 
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Company partner
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A bigger player on the market

In central Uganda, the rural district of Luwero is blessed with fertile grounds. They have ensured that the agricultural or ‘agro’ industry is the most proficient economic activity in the region. However, the many small farmers active in the region rarely have the scale or the capacity to enter into fair-trade contracts. As such, they are often helpless victims of negotiation processes for both the purchase of raw materials and the sale of their own products and harvests.  

Approximately thirty chicken farmers have joined forces. The Katikamu Poultry Co-operative is the result. This organisation consists of both, farmers who breed poultry to sell meat, as well as those who concentrate on egg production. The farmers act as one groupwith their sales and purchases centralised. Together, they have become a major player on the market. And that has given them a stronger position at the negotiations table. The cooperative has used this, first of allto ensure fair tradeAs well as the scale benefits, the cooperative has invested strongly in the sharing of knowledge between membersAn extra benefit strength of the Katikamu Poultry Co-operative is the diversity of its entrepreneurial members. There is a balanced share of males and females, young and oldthat always welcome new members.   

Support, expansion and sharing of knowledge

The founding of a co-operative is no easy task. Strong, basic structures that allow the voice of every member to be heard need to forthe cornerstone of such an organisation. The principle of ‘one member = one voice’ forms the basis of every healthy co-operative. It led Exchange, together with the Katikamu Poultry farm, to decide on a growth programme that would focus on the sustainable expansion and support of the cooperation

As well as providing their technical expertise in areas such as chicken feeding, the purchase of raw materials, quality and hygiene, Exchange joined them in looking for ways to structurally support the cooperative. With the right expertise and sharing of knowledge, the enterprise has grown sustainably into a strong co-operative that provides fair trade and income stability for the local farmers. 

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African Honey Bee

Sustainable micro-beekeeping as an economic activity in rural communities in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal

 

Discover this growth program...

African Honey Bee (AHB) is a social enterprise that supports families in disadvantaged rural communities in starting up sustainable microbeekeeping businesses. On the global level, there is great demand for honey products, in particular products that meet quality and fair trade standards. The population living in the vast rural areas of South Africa is in great economic need. Setting up family honey business in these areas not only has an economic impact, but also has a positive impact on local nature through pollination and improved agricultural yields. In addition, AHB has a huge positive environmental impact by preventing the practice of 'honey hunting'. Honey hunters collect honey from wild beehives, using fire and smoke in an uncontrolled way to stun the bees and therefore causing frequent forest fires. AHB joined a sustainable partnership with a private company in the region, the Sappi plantation, which focuses on training people to keep bees in a responsible manner, providing an extra income and safeguarding the Sappi’s plantations from fire – a win-win situation for every stakeholder.

AHB is an independent initiative that gives to hundreds of local families the opportunity to market their honey through the AHB beekeeper trust cooperative. Over the past two years, AHB has trained 1200 beekeepers in Limpopo, Mpumalange and KwaZulu-Natal. 425 families have become active beekeepers, producing and selling honey. The effects of AHB training courses go beyond just developing new competences for the rural population. Promoting entrepreneurship gives self-confidence and empowers the communities involved.

The AHB model design aims to generate positive effects on the 3 p's (profit, people and planet) by stimulating:

- The development of sustainable micro-enterprises
- Food Safety
- Capacity-building
- Poverty reduction
- Biological agriculture
- Biodiversity protection
- Strengthen agriculture by spraying
- The design of niche markets for export

Exchange and African Honey Bee worked together for the first time in 2015. An expert in apiculture supported the company in the introduction of the most recent and most environmentally sustainable production techniques. The adoption of excellent beekeeping practices resulted in a strengthened training programme for the communities involved.

Attracting social investors to achieve inclusive growth

After this collaboration, AHB continued to grow. At the end of 2016, the contacts between AHB and Exchange have been strengthened again. At that time, the two partners already started thinking about an long term approach. The needs of the company are diverse: in addition to the technical needs in the field of production technology, there are challenges in several other areas (strategic management, marketing, packaging, certification and distribution). The management of AHB set up a plan to triple the current number of beehives in-house over the coming years. The company is therefore looking for social investors to support further growth. To this end, Exchange have set up a collaboration with Benevolab Belgium, the CSR programme of BNP Paribas Fortis that gives bank employees the opportunity to contribute as volunteers to NGO projects in the South. Two experts from BNP Paribas Fortis Belgium conducted a financial analysis of the company in May 2017, and an investment plan was redacted on the basis of their analysis.

 In Belgium, Exchange started discussions with
Kampani, a Belgian social investment fund, aimed at strengthening companies in the agrofood industry in the South. In the first half of 2018 Exchange plans to further strengthen this cooperation in order to arrive at a well-developed investment file that meets the questions of Kampani and / or any other social investors regarding the commercial operations of AHB. In addition, we are working together to raise cooperative funds around AHB Beekeeper through resources that are made available through national and international development initiatives. If funds are successfully found for this ambitious expansion, Exchange is ready to start a process together with AHB to tackle the next steps in the development of the company with a focus on marketing and in-house packaging.

Development of a structural partnership

To realize this growth program and to guarantee its sustainability, Exchange is working on setting up a structural North-South partnership. Attracting investors is essential for the company to grow further, and therefore a strong financial partnership has been created. Its core objectives are:
1) Supporting AHB in developing a realistic investment request
2) Making the business case of AHB in Flanders known to potential social investors, realizing a proper due diligence
3) Setting up a broader support program for the company over different business processes and thus achieving an intense guidance.
4) Leasing with Belgian organizations for funding social smallholder programmes.