Solutions for African Food Enterprises

Solutions for African Food Enterprises (SAFE) is a multi-year program which aims to increase the competitiveness of the African food processing sector to expand availability of affordable and nutritious foods to local populations. The program builds upon a partnership with USAID, Partners in Food Solutions, and TechnoServe initiated in five countries.

Context

Nearly two-thirds of the workforce in sub-Saharan Africa is focused in agriculture. However, many of these workers are smallholder farmers who lack access to stable and profitable markets for their harvests, trapping them in a cycle of poverty. At the same time, as a result of poverty and the lack of access to varied, nutritious food, a quarter of the region’s population is undernourished.

Opportunity

Food processing is a significant driver of local economies, creating supplier linkages for millions of small-scale farmers and helping elevate rural incomes across much of the African continent. However, small and growing local processors often have difficulties producing high-quality affordable and nutritious products that meet food safety standards and regulatory requirements, due in part to a lack of technical and business knowledge.

Strategy

The Partners in Food Solutions (PFS)-TechnoServe Alliance

The Partners in Food Solutions (PFS)-TechnoServe Alliance, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), matches the expertise of leading global food companies with the needs of African-based food processing companies in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia. These consultations help local processors to produce and market high-quality, safe, and nutritious foods, creating sustainable value chain linkages that support local farmers as well as the nutrition needs of the wider community.


Explore the partnership's interactive e-books: the Agri-Business Management Handbook and the Handbook for Food Fortification in Kenya.

The partnership has designed and refined an efficient model that remotely delivers corporate expertise to the field:

  • TechnoServe food technologists and business advisors are located in Africa to provide on-site support to processors.
  • Partners in Food Solutions aggregates and mobilizes teams of volunteers from its member companies – General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM, Bühler, Hershey, and Ardent Mills – to transfer knowledge and technical assistance to processors in areas such as product formulation, fortification and packaging, and business operations. The companies also provide access to facilities and state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure.

Recognizing that enterprises in different countries face different challenges, the partnership develops solutions tailored to a processor’s particular situation as well as country-specific strategies that will generate the highest return on investment. The program does this in a number of ways:

  • By supporting emerging processors through sector-wide training in food quality, safety, and fortification in addition to other challenges facing local processors;
  • By facilitating linkages between processors and potential markets and sources of finance;
  • By equipping local institutions to support processors by developing and sharing training materials; and
  • By training universities, local business consulting firms, local universities, and other entities on best practices so they in turn can train local processors and lay the foundation for enduring impact.

Solutions for African Food Enterprises (SAFE) is a multi-year program which aims to increase the competitiveness of the African food processing sector to expand availability of affordable and nutritious foods to local populations. The program builds upon a partnership with USAID, Partners in Food Solutions, and TechnoServe initiated under AAIFP in five countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia. 

Results

Since 2012, SAFE has delivered customized technical assistance to 124 small and growing African food processors by facilitating the transfer of technology and knowledge between these companies and skilled volunteer experts from PFS’s corporate partners. In turn, these processors have created 382 new jobs and sold more than 55,800 metric tons of improved nutritious foods.As of December 2016, four years into the program, 82 processors have benefited from customized technical assistance through 205 technology and business charters. As a direct result of SAFE’s assistance, these businesses have created 337 jobs, established 95 new market linkages, and sold 55,852 metric tons of improved, nutritious food. Supported food processors have made new investments of over $9.6 million.

SAFE additionally provides sector-wide training to broader processor groups, universities, service providers, and industry bodies to strengthen their knowledge base so they are better able to serve their companies and support the sector. So far, we have conducted 50 trainings in business strategy, planning and technical areas and technical areas (e.g. good manufacturing practices, food fortification, processing, aflatoxin control, baking, milling technology). These trainings have reached more than 1,350 individuals from 1,028 different processors.

SAFE's impact extends beyond the businesses, to benefit millions of employees, farmers and consumers. The food processors receiving customized assistance through the program provide market opportunities for more than 973,000 smallholder farmers, who support an estimated 5 million family members.

Finally, seeking to ensure long-term impact, the SAFE team in Kenya developed a set of learning manuals in 2016 that provide important guidance on new product development, fortification and business strategy. These manuals are geared toward learning institutions and other practitioner audiences, and TechnoServe made two of them – the Agri-Business Management Handbook and the Handbook for Food Fortification in Kenya – available online as e-books to encourage wide distribution.

Partners

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency that provides economic, development, and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.

Partners in Food Solutions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that links the technical and business expertise of volunteer employees from General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM, Bühler, Hershey, and Ardent Mills to small and growing food processors and millers in the developing world.

TechnoServe is an international nonprofit that works with enterprising people in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and industries. TechnoServe directs all on-the-ground implementation for the Alliance, identifying and partnering with food processors, government, and private sector bodies, linking their challenges to technical experts within PFS and supporting their business, technical, and training needs.