From goat meat to strawberries, entrepreneurs seizing opportunities

    A Good Nature Agro private extension agent, Zisa Phiri (right), working with soya bean farmer Dadeyo Zimba in Zambia’s Eastern Province. 

    From trading with small-scale farmers to growing strawberries and building a goat meat empire, these five companies are tapping into the potential of Zambia’s agribusiness and food industry.

    1. $10m company proves small farms can be big business

    American-born Carl Jensen and his co-founders at Good Nature Agro (GNA) have built a $10 million revenue business by partnering with smallholder farmers in Zambia. At its heart, GNA contracts more than 20,000 small-scale farmers to produce legume seeds and commodities – such as cowpea, soya bean, and groundnuts – and then buys these products from the farmers to sell at a profit. However, GNA’s business model goes beyond mere trading. It provides farmers with loans to purchase high-quality seeds and other agricultural inputs, offers ongoing farming support through private extension agents, and delivers financial and digital literacy training. GNA is also involved in financing assets for farmers, ranging from agricultural equipment to mobile phones. Read the full article

    2. Commercialising goat meat in Zambia

    Zambian entrepreneur Paul Nyambe founded Zamgoat with the aim of commercialising goat meat, a product that was surprisingly scarce in supermarkets, despite widespread goat farming in the country. Zamgoat quickly found success, seeing a rising demand for pre-packaged goat meat. To supply this demand, the company established a network of smallholder farmers from whom it sources goats, and has provided breeding stock, training, and knowledge to enhance productivity. With financial backing from various entities, including the African Development Bank and the World Bank, Zamgoat established a goat slaughterhouse and processing facility. The company has also launched a quick-service restaurant chain, Zamgoat Xpress. Read the full article

    3. Entrepreneur boosts local strawberry production

    Bupe Chipili Mulapesi founded Farm23 Strawberry in 2009 with a modest batch of 20 strawberry plants, aiming to fill the evident gap on Zambian supermarket shelves. Despite the apparent market need, the enterprise didn’t immediately hit the sales targets it aimed for, as local consumers harboured scepticism towards domestically grown strawberries. Mulapesi recalls, “We had this myth that strawberries cannot grow here.” Overcoming these initial doubts, Farm23 has since made substantial strides, expanding its reach to cater to both the local market and beyond, including exports to the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Read the full article

    4. Turning Zambia’s wild fruit into a growing juice business

    Forest Africa Zambia, located in Chilanga, Zambia, taps into the rich bounty of wild fruits to produce a range of juices and related products. Launching its venture with baobab fruit-based offerings, the company swiftly expanded its product line to include ngai juice, derived from the African medlar fruit. Co-founder Frazer Handondo reflects on the rapid market acceptance, especially among smaller retail outlets eager to stock their shelves with these unique beverages. “It was amazing how people embraced our products almost immediately,” Handondo remarks. Today the company produces 15,000 litres a month and transports it to over 200 retail shops in the Lusaka, Southern and Copperbelt provinces. Read the full article

    5. Building a retail chain for farmers

    Zambia-based Farm Depot is a retail chain supplying a wide array of agricultural products to small-scale farmers. In addition to the stores, the company also offers financing for smallholders and a subscription-based farming support service. Farm Depot has grown its store network to 26 outlets across four provinces in Zambia. The company’s next growth phase involves transforming into a ‘platform’ that connects smallholder farmers with service providers and clients across the value chain. Managing director Simon Bentley has identified business opportunities in tackling the four main challenges confronting farmers in Zambia: access to finance, knowledge, quality agricultural inputs, and markets. Read the full article

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