Manufacturing opportunities in AFRICA

We cannot build Africa by exporting jobs. It has not worked in the past it will not work in the future. We have had a lot of opportunities to build human capital and create business friendly environments driven through government’s efforts. This has largely not worked. This a call to the entrepreneurs in Africa to wake up and take their place in the world of value addition. This is where the future of Africa lies in manufacturing. We are a resource rich continent. We are blessed to have a growing population which is a work force and a ready market.

Cashew Nut Processing — Fahad Awadh Entrepreneur

Fahad Awadh is a Tanzanian entrepreneur featured in 30 under 30 by Forbes magazine (2016). He is the founder of YYTZ an Agro processing firm adding value to raw Cashew nuts in Zanzibar and Tanzania. The 29 year old studied in the USA and Canada and decided to come back home and create opportunities as he invests.

East Africa produces over 200,000 tonnes of cashew nuts annually, largely exported raw. Tanzania is estimated to be the fourth or fifth largest exporter globally. The largest producer and exporter is Vietnam.

Awadh is focused in adding value to cashew nuts, processing that meets international standards of safety and trace-ability. To achieve this he has built partnerships with small holder farmers to create a reliable supply of raw cashew nuts. He has invested in training farmers in business skills, financial literacy and safety requirements since this skills are needed and impact on his success.

He partnered with his father Ali Awadh to venture into Cashew nut processing. Before he started, Awadh researched on the leading exporter of cashew nuts in Vietnam. Learned about machinery, equipment and processes required. This is a bench marking tour necessary to establish where you are starting and what is happening globally. He then prepared a business plan.

One cannot start a business without the knowledge of where the market is? He managed to get contracted buyers from the USA and the Netherlands. With a supplier contract in place he managed to get financing to start production. He built a 2500 tonnes capacity processing facility in Zanzibar. He has a factory manager with over 10 year’s cashew nut processing experience. He has incorporated an advisory board with over 30 year’s cumulative experience in Cashew nuts business.

The business is driven by mechanization, speed and efficiency. Building partnerships has worked for Awadh. Having small scale holders as suppliers and having partnership with buyers. It is a tripartite operation with a win/win arrangement. The farmers are assured of crop pick-up at a reasonable return, YYTZ is guaranteed raw material-cashew nuts raw and buyers are certain of quality, safety, traceability and consistent supplies.

Why he is succeeding

Good education- he has been exposed to good education in the USA and Canada. He has an entrepreneurial eye. He started doing business starting a clothing line of t-Shirts that were manufactured in Bangladesh and exported to Bahamas, Canada and Gambia with help of two other student partners. He put together a business plan that attracted funding. He raised $500,000 financing to put up another processing plant in Tanzania mainland.

Belief in enterprise- It is one of the pillars necessary to change fortunes for farmers in Africa. Venturing in value addition, we not only create jobs we also increase the earnings of the small holder farmers. Use of research data. Demand of cashew nuts has grown 53% from 2010 to 2016, faster that the tree can grow.

Gratitude and giving back- investing in farmers training is a powerful way of mentoring partnerships. It is giving before receiving a powerful concept.

Mentorship- he has mentors, people who have been successful in entrepreneurship. He is an avid reader and believes in tackling challenges.

Team work and growing talent- he has surrounded himself with people more knowledgeable about cashew nuts business than himself. This accelerates his learning curve beneficial for his business.

It is Africa’s time to drive industrial growth through value addition.