Successful African agri-business
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Food for thought: Made in Africa,

for Africa!

How African entrepreneurs in agro and food create commercial
and social impact.

Ndidi Nwuneli, Director of AACE Foods.

On October 27th the 2SCALE consortium organized the conference ‘Food for thought: Made in Africa, for Africa!’ in The Hague, The Netherlands. The event focused on inclusive agribusiness and food security in Africa and highlighted various successful African agribusiness. 2SCALE is one of the largest agribusiness incubators in Africa, working in 8 countries with 327.679 smallholder farming families, 1.242 SMEs and with private sector contributions with a value of €21 million. The 2SCALE consortium consists of ICRA, IFDC and BoPInc and is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Seven CEOs of successful African food enterprises shared their stories, their visions, and their dreams. These entrepreneurs are champions in the 2SCALE program and managed to establish agri and food enterprises with public and corporate partners from the Netherlands. We invited the CEOs of AACE Foods (Nigeria), Psaltry International (Nigeria), Promo Fruits (Benin), Fruittiland (Ghana), Acila (Uganda), GUTS Agro (Ethiopia) and Shalem Investments (Kenya) to present their business cases and highlight the factors underlying their success: well-organized smallholder cooperatives, improved farming methods to improve quality and yields, proper distribution and sales channels, and innovative consumer products. 

Above all, these entrepreneurs managed to share their visions with the people around them and to create trust which convinced farmers and other entrepreneurs in the supply chain to collaborate. The trust was not betrayed. On the contrary, commercial success is being connected with social impact: nearly 40% of the SMEs in the 2SCALE program is managed by women. More than 1,600 companies are buying produce from, selling agricultural inputs to, or providing services to small-scale farmers. More than 265,000 smallholder farmers have improved crop yields, income and family nutrition. Nearly 30 percent of these farmers are women. The average net income of these 265,000 farmers has increased by 30%. 

Fatawu I. Gombilla, Director of Fruittiland.

Innovative 2SCALE partnerships hit the ‘aid and trade nail’ on the head

Jeroen Roodenburg, Ambassador Private Sector and Development Cooperation at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, opened the conference with a keynote speech. He emphasized that business is key to fight poverty and create wealth for the poor.

Inclusive business is at the core of government policies with regard to private sector development. It means that farmers – men, women and youth – need to run their farms as a business and compete for markets in partnerships and linkages with local SMEs. Agribusiness companies such as those represented during the conference, have committed to inclusive business and to sourcing their raw materials from small-scale farmers supported by the 2SCALE program. The role of the Ministry is to help them overcome the initial barriers and costs. The rich portfolio of partnerships in the 8 countries where 2SCALE is active shows a wide diversity of products that can be successfully grown, processed and sold in rapidly growing African markets. But more importantly, it shows that African entrepreneurs, including the farmers, can help to feed all groups of consumers in Africa. 2SCALE functions as an incubator to nurture this kind of entrepreneurship and value chain linkages. 

2SCALE has introduced a number of special initiatives – called BoP pilots – to channel nutritious food to those who need it most. For example, the ‘Likie model’ is part of a new last mile distribution network to get affordable and nutritious food from the factory of GUTS Agro straight the to children in villages and urban areas in Ethiopia. Product innovations and new distribution models such as this can make a difference. Jeroen Roodenburg ended his speech by saying that the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is proud to be part of these innovative partnerships in 2SCALE, that support the SDGs.

Key-note speech by Jeroen Roodenburg, 
Ambassador Private Sector & International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

African entrepreneurs are leading, 2SCALE is instrumental

Arno Maatman, the 2SCALE Chief of Party added the important note that the African enterprises themselves are crucial for the successes. The African entrepreneurs are in the lead, they are the champions of the agribusiness clusters. It is through their perseverance, creativity and ambition that 2SCALE can make a difference. The 2SCALE program as such only facilitates and supports where needed. 2SCALE supports a variety of inclusive business models with viable and equitable agribusiness partnerships that meet financial as well as social development goals.

Discussing crucial themes in African agri and food business

After the morning program with presentations and an energetic performance by percussion band Drum Cafe, the program continued in the afternoon with round-table discussions focusing on various themes: youth employment, women’s leadership in the agri and food sector, the advantages of inclusive business, approaching farming as a business, access to finance and power relations in value chain partnerships. The seven African entrepreneurs and various experts from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the private sector accompanied the round-table discussions to provide ‘directions’. ‘Access to finance’ was probably the most popular round-table discussion - a sign that this topic is also the most urgent and relevant for farmers and entrepreneurs in African agribusiness.

The inspiring stories and innovative businesses of the seven entrepreneurs that have shared their dreams, ideas, successes and concerns revealed that 2SCALE is a concrete and successful example of the so-called ‘Dutch Diamond Approach’ in which Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) play a major role in implementing development cooperation policy. PPPs are partnerships between the government, the private sector, research institutions and civil society organizations. All of these were represented during the conference and particularly the prominent involvement and interest of the private sector was striking.

Round-table discussion

The African 2SCALE entrepreneurs have provided the proof of the pudding of PPPs in the agri and food business. The next step will be to amplify their businesses, to find additional business partners and to replicate the most successful models to other countries and regions. The entrepreneurs are in the driver’s seat, partners from the private sector and government are invited to jump on the train and provide energy and mass to the African agri and food sector.

Click here for all the pictures of the event.


We would like to thank Jeroen Roodenburg (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Bob Steetskamp (FrieslandCampina), Marije Balt (Spring Factor), Roland Waardenburg (The Rock Group), Lars Kramer (NABC), Paulus Verschuren (Former director at Unilever, founder of WorldFed and currently board member at the Access To Nutrition Foundation ), Frank Reefman (Friesland Campina), Albert Boogaard (Rabobank Foundation), Louise Anten (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Sybren Attema (FrieslandCampina), Aaltje de Roos (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Jan-Arie Nugteren (East-West Seeds), Selwyn Moons (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Sietze Vellema (PrC) for their contribution and support to the event. 

Special thanks goes to the seven companies who came over all the way from Africa to share their stories and expertise with us: Dieu-Donné Alladjodjo (Promo Fruits), Engidu Legesse (GUTS Agro), Fatawu I. Gombilla (Fruittiland), Ruth Kinoti (Shalem Investments), Ndidi Nwuneli (AACE Foods), Oluyemisi Iranloye (Psaltry International) and Ruth Okiror (ACILA Enterprises).

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