Stories of resilience, innovation and impacts from agri-food businesses across Africa in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic!
160HydroFarm specializes in soilless farming, engaging women in Harare, Zimbabwe to grow crops through hydroponics, and promote water conservation and healthy eating. The past few months have been challenging as 160HydroFarm’s major clien...
160HydroFarm specializes in soilless farming, engaging women in Harare, Zimbabwe to grow crops through hydroponics, and promote water conservation and healthy eating. The past few months have been challenging as 160HydroFarm’s major clients; restaurants across the country closed operations due to the lockdown. Determined to stay relevant and resilient, Venensia Mukarati, the Founder of 160HydroFarms, took three critical moves. First, she decided to cut down production to about 20% to cater to a few loyal customers; next, she donated the 80% harvest to old peoples’ homes severely affected by the pandemic. Thirdly, she swiftly moved their on-site training to online platforms. Prior to the lockdown, 160HydroFarm earns its income chiefly from on-site training, holding a session per day to empower Zimbabweans including women and youth on hydroponics farming. Owing to the pandemic, the team had to cancel the sessions to comply with social distancing rules. However, the company proceeded to set up an e-learning training module on ‘Introduction to Hydroponics Farming’ on Africa Start-up Academy, opening the opportunity to learners across the globe. Within the lock-down period, a total of 35 people across the globe have completed the course.
Venensia's message to other agri-food businesses in Africa:
"A lot of people may have said this, but it is true and greatly applies to the agribusiness landscape: Be an amateur, not everything you do has to be great, especially in the beginning. Take time to learn from your experiences and try out various approaches to know what you are most passionate about and turn that into your business concept. Take this period as the time to try new things and learn."
Yaxare is a for-profit company that produces tea. Yaxare also works with women farmers across The Gambia, empowering them to become self-sufficient; a huge source of motivation that keeps the Yaxare team invigorated. “If production...
Yaxare is a for-profit company that produces tea. Yaxare also works with women farmers across The Gambia, empowering them to become self-sufficient; a huge source of motivation that keeps the Yaxare team invigorated. “If production should be stopped at this moment, the lives and daily livelihoods of the women we work with will be greatly compromised and they are mostly the breadwinners of their respective families”, said Fatoumata N’jie, the Founder and CEO of Yaxare. Since the government of The Gambia declared a state of public emergency and closed all borders, Yaxare has been unable to receive their regular imports of working equipment which mostly comes from outside of The Gambia. Consequently, their markets beyond the country are also cut off. Unperturbed by these, Yaxare has found alternative methods to continue delighting customers with their delicious, healthy teas. First came the discounts to help their customers better afford their teas. Next, Yaxare took full advantage of DHL’s discounted e-commerce platform for entrepreneurs in The Gambia, to ship its products to customers overseas. Yaxare also did a quick turnaround from attending trade fairs to directly engaging other enterprises such as Farm Fresh, a local online fresh produce delivery store to include their teas in Farm Fresh’s Ramadan package. Yaxare has also increased its social media activities, emphasizing the need for people to stay at home, live a healthier lifestyle and drink natural herbal teas, earning recognition and invitations to participate in National TV shows, further increasing their visibility.
Fatoumata's message to other agri-food businesses in Africa:
"My advice to my fellow entrepreneurs is to see this pandemic as a means of unleashing hidden potentials to do better in our endeavors. We must seize this opportunity to innovate to grow what we eat and eat what we grow rather than depending on the outside world.”
Helencia Foods is a food processing company that produces packaged food products by partnering with local farmers to source fresh farm produce. Lockdowns, market closures, and restrictions in movement have hindered Helencia F...
Helencia Foods is a food processing company that produces packaged food products by partnering with local farmers to source fresh farm produce. Lockdowns, market closures, and restrictions in movement have hindered Helencia Foods from distributing its products outside its base in Abuja, Nigeria. Helen Nnaemeka, the Founder and CEO of Helencia Foods observed that sales had also dwindled for her colleagues in other business lines such as those selling jewelry, perfumes, clothing materials, etc. She decided to ‘try out’ establishing retailer networks. She took to her circle of influence, including business groups, social media groups, WhatsApp status, WhatsApp broadcast list, and Facebook groups to share this new business model and to invite people to join her team to retail her products and cash out through profit sharing. It was an instant success – “The success is huge because we have now reached locations we couldn't have reached on our own. The rate of return has also improved.” To meet orders, Helencia Foods has now partnered with a delivery service agent that has obtained movement tags to deliver their products across the country.
Helen's message to other agri-food businesses in Africa:
"I will say that the pandemic has positioned the food industry in a very strategic way. We are one of those allowed to continue serving during lockdown which shows the importance of the work we do. Most of the palliatives are food products, showing that people must eat regardless of the situation. As agri-food businesses, we must continue to position our businesses to remain relevant through resilience, quality service and integrity."
Gain access to funding opportunities, networking events, data, learning resources, and other entrepreneurs in the landscape!Join the Nourishing Africa Hub
We believe it is important to highlight the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the agriculture and food sector as well as the positive and innovative ways entrepreneurs across the sector are pushing on through these hard times.More