Young Entrepreneurs

Affiong Williams – Founder, Reelfruit

Williams, who was one of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 in 2015, founded her fruit processing company in Nigeria in 2012. The company sells dried fruit and nut snacks, but the impact is much larger. Williams has said that she founded the company because she saw a gap in the market and that “there is untapped opportunity in processing and value addition of raw materials.” She has also said, “I also believe it’s a very budding sector, there is a lot of opportunity as well as the job creation which I think is quite important to me as an entrepreneur to be able to play in an industry that would create a lot of jobs.”

Clearly, Williams is passionate about developing the agribusiness sector of the Nigerian economy as well as the the rural farmers themselves.

The company’s current product line includes dried mango, pineapple, cashew, banana and coconut snacks. As an ambitious individual, Williams is working on raising capital to open a new, larger factory to produce and package more product as well as expand the product line.

Williams has said, “I hope to be on the cover of FORBES AFRICA in five years’ time.” This company is going places. Look for ReelFruit to expand and to have an incredible impact on the agribusiness economy of Nigeria and beyond.

Olawale Ajibike Oluwafunmilayo is young Nigerian baker who started her baking career from her mom’s kitchen at the age of 8; gathering basic cake ingredients (flour, butter, sugar, egg, baking powder and flavouring), mix in no particular ratio, set her mum’s stove on fire, fill a pot with sand, set three stones inside, place the pan filled with cake batter on the stones placed in the sand, cover with a newspaper and finally cover with the lid of the pot.
At the age of 15 she was used to measuring correctly.  When she turned 20 In 2014, she registered her cake business JR Cakes with a start up capital of $9 USD ( N3,000 Nigerian Naira), currently the business records an average income of $1500-$2000 monthly with patronage from customers in 9 states (Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Sokoto, Edo, Kwara, Abuja and Ondo respectively) in Nigeria and Nigerians in diaspora.
The customer base of her business cuts across all ages and classes in Nigeria, some of the major customers recorded are First Bank Nigeria (a leading financial institution in Nigeria), Landmark University (a private agrarian university in Nigeria), government officials, schools and organizations.
Dedicated to pastries, fries and culinary services, through her company, she has trained several young people in cake and culinary, this includes a skill acquisition conducted for more than 20 high school students as a way of positioning them to be employers of labour in the near future. The success of the business has been aired on various media platforms including national radio in Nigeria.

You can view her social media pages:

Email: [email protected]



Alloysius Attah decided to become an agripreneur form a different angle. Attah has seen the struggles of rural farmers and now his company, Farmerline, build technologies to connect rural customers to information, financial services, and supply chains, with focus on smallholder farmers
Alloysius Attah is the CEO and Co-founder of Farmerline. When he was five years of age, his parents divorced and he moved in with his aunt, a small-scale farmer in rural Ghana. It was there that he witnessed the challenges faced by small-scale farmers. In college, Alloysius was determined to give back to the people who supported him and founded Alloyworld, a photography and video production company, and iCottage Networks, a Web and Mobile startup. In 2013, Alloysius launched Farmerline in partnership with Emmanuel Owusu Addai in order to support small-scale farmers. Alloysius has spoken about his work at the 2013 Social Capital Markets Conference and Mobile World Congress 2014. He is a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow.
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Boyede Sobitan – Founder, OlaExpress


Boyede Sobitan, 34, of Bronzeville, and co-founder Fola Dada are the brains behind OjaExpress. He is a self-titled, Chigerian — a Chicagoan of Nigerian extraction, who is engaged in the African community here, and wants to work to shine a positive light on African culture.


As the founder, he describes the app as a platform that takes away the inconvenience and commute outside of the neighbourhood. There is also same-day delivery, and the service is available throughout Chicago.

It is currently available to those who resides outside Nigeria mainly in Chicago area but would soon be extended to those in New York.

The co-founder said customers can make special requests and can also use the app to look up the recipe.  While Sobitan said they’re in the process of partnering with local African restaurants. Anyone with a smartphone can download the free app and create a profile.


Young farmer’s growing success

Written by Gabi Khumalo

When the time came for Grade 10 learners to choose their subjects, agricultural science was never popular among learners at Sekgosese Secondary School in Limpopo.

But for one learner, the subject stood out as a field with much opportunity.

“My teachers at the time tried to persuade me to study Physical Science and Mathematics because I was among the bright students, so I’m told. But I told them that I want to do agriculture. I had already seen potential in the sector and I knew that one could make a living from it,” says Clement Pilusa, who at 27, is running two successful poultry farms in Pretoria.

He is currently leasing 50 hectares of land in Onderstepoort Plaas, which he uses for chicken production.

The other poultry farm is in Stinkwater, near Hammanskraal, and it is used for broiler chicken production. The land belongs to the Tshwane Municipality.

When he completed matric, Pilusa registered at the Tshwane University of Technology, where he studied towards a Diploma in Agriculture Development and Extension.

“Agriculture was my first choice and my second choice. When other students were looking for internships during our final year, I looked for land to lease.”

When he finally found a piece of land to lease from a family in the North West, he started his farming and fresh produce business, growing vegetables.

A year later, the Tshwane Municipality offered Pilusa and his partner land to use and that’s when the love for poultry farming started.

His major break came in 2015 when he was named winner of the South African Breweries’ (SAB) youth entrepreneurship development programme, the SAB Kick-start competition, and walked away with a grant of R500 000.

The cash prize enabled Pilusa to lease the land in Pretoria North and allowed him to triple his turn over.

“The business is growing. Back then we were able to sell 1 500 chickens in two months, but now in a month we are able to sell over 4 000.”

Pilusa’s business has not only created jobs for local people, but has made a difference to many families.

He also offers internships for TUT students. Two students are placed on each farm, where they do experiential learning.

“We’ve decided to assist students because some of them stay at home for six months trying to get a farm to do practicals and that delays their graduation. We’ve also decided to give back to the community by going out to local secondary schools creating agriculture awareness,” says Pilusa.


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Founder: Agro Mindset

After completing a postgraduate degree in agriculture, Asiamah turned down a number of job offers to farm in Ghana – founding Agro Mindset Group instead. Asiamah owns 15 acres of land, raising chicken, and employs 12 people. “Our future outlook is to adopt more innovative, cutting-edge technologies to produce animal feed, manage waste, and construct solar power plants,” he says.

Asiamah is the winner of an African Achiever Award for agricultural excellence, the Future Awards Africa for agriculture and Ghana UK Based Awards for corporate sustainability after his nomination at the House of Commons.

Youth unemployment is one of the most pressing issues in Tanzania. The number of young people who enter the labour force exceeds the available jobs. According to official data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2014, the economy created about 282,382 formal-sector jobs while an estimated 800,000 to one million youths enter the labour market at the same time. Yet, the number of job seekers is expected to double by 2030. According to the World Bank, the size of Tanzania’s youth, which was about 8.1 million in 2010, will rise to 11 million by 2020 and 15 million by 2030.

In the near absence of formal jobs, especially for entry-level positions, many educated young people are looking to agriculture and agribusiness for employment opportunities. From Dar es Salaam to Arusha up to the lake region in Mwanza, a growing number of educated youths are now investing in agriculture.

One of such people is Deborah Simon Malaba. After struggling to make ends meet as a journalist, the young mother of one quit her job to go into vegetable farming in 2016.

“My employers owed me money, and I thought, ‘I waste my time here, my energy, and use my creativity without getting anything and I have a son who depends on me’. So I decided to go into agribusiness,” she told How we made it in Africa during an interview.


Before venturing into agribusiness, Deborah did some research and discovered that vegetable products were in high demand in Tanzania. She got more interested in the business because it promised quick revenue compared to what she got at her media job, where she had to wait until the end of the month to get paid.

Deborah started her vegetable farming business with Tsh.4m (US$1,790), which she borrowed from her relatives. Part of the money was used to buy two hectares of land in a rural area, not far from Mwanza airport. For irrigation purposes, her farm is strategically positioned near the lake.

About 46% of Tanzania’s land is arable and have never been touched. “It is easy to have access to land in Tanzania. You can either own it or lease it for a while. The only challenge is the cost of the land, especially in urban areas. It costs three or four times lesser in rural areas,” Deborah explained.

After harvesting, the farm produce is taken to the city and sold in market stalls and supermarkets. With the rise of structured retail – supermarkets and shopping malls – Tanzanian marketers are encouraging young entrepreneurs to go into agribusiness.

But a lack of know-how remains a barrier to these budding agripreneurs.

“I wasn’t aware of where to get the seedlings or expertise. I didn’t understand the market too, especially the income of people who may not be able to afford to buy it in comparison to the amount of money I have invested in the business,” Deborah said.

Not everyone is enthused about venturing into agriculture. According to Deborah, while there are opportunities in the lake region, many people still regard agriculture as “an activity for someone that is not educated”.

“The opportunities are there, but most people don’t know the procedures of how to get it. I am aware there are opportunities to get a loan, but the process of getting it is the big challenge,” she said.

To mitigate these challenges, Deborah consulted an expert. “Basically it is difficult to get advice from the authority if you don’t know these procedures, but I used my connections as a former journalist to gather resources and professional advice for my business.” She also attended two agribusiness trainings to keep up with how to do modern agriculture.

These measures have helped her business. So far, she has been able to pay back half of her start-up loan within a year of launching the business.

Deborah wants to get more young people on board and out of poverty. She runs an organisation, Agribusiness Media Initiative, which produces a radio documentary programme called ‘InukaBadilika’, a Swahili word which means ‘Wake up and change’.

“We use this programme to encourage young people to be active, empowered and change their situation,” she said.

So far, she has produced and aired four documentaries on agriculture on a community radio in Mwanza. In the future, she plans to open a mini-supermarket to sell vegetables locally and also have it exported to other parts of the country.

“When I started, people were laughing at me. But now, I am doing great, and I am getting admiration for what I am doing,” she said.

This story was reported with the support of an African Great Lakes Reporting Fellowship from the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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Cashews are a major export crop for Tanzania and a significant source of income for many small farmers.
The East African country produces about 200,000 tons of cashews a year and is considered one of the best quality cashews in the world. But value addition in the form of processing of raw cashew and capacity building in this sector is wanting. The lack of local processors in Tanzania means there are very few jobs created from this valuable commodity; cashews are an important foreign exchange earner for the country.
Fahad Awadh, an ambitious 29-year old entrepreneur from Tanzania, recently moved back home from Canada to set up a cashew processing facility in Tanzania in an effort to bring international standards and traceability to the cashew nuts. He is the founder of YYTZ Agro-Processing, a cashew processing company that is adding value locally while creating jobs and boosting the income of farmers and the community as a whole. The company’s flagship processing facility in Zanzibar has an installed capacity of 2,500 Tons per annum.
YYTZ Agro-Processing recently raised a $500,000 investment from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund to establish another processing facility in Mtwara, southeastern Tanzania.
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At age 24 Jean Bosco Nzeyimana is making a big mark on Rwanda’s business market. He is the founder of Habona Ltd and is making an impact in the lives of his home villagers, clean energy and climate-smart farming. At this young age he is making an ever growing impact on the community around him.

Nzeyimana was born in a poor village in the south of Rwanda, where no one had electricity. Like many children in his village, he had to wake up early every morning to collect firewood in the forest before walking five kilometers to school.

Nzeyimana always wanted to solve people’s problems. Entrepreneurship became a viable path to achieve that. “My greatest inspiration is that every little thing I do makes an impact in somebody else’s life. This makes me feel responsible for all the lives I am impacting, and those I can potentially impact,” he says.

Habona Ltd doesn’t stray that far from firewood. It offers affordable and environmentally friendly services and energy fuels in the form of biomass briquettes and biogas waste.

“Our briquettes are efficient substitutes to wood charcoals and help cut over 30% of household fuel spending every year. Throughout briquette production, the by-product is fresh nutrient organic matters that are composted to make organic fertilisers for farming.”

The company is also diversifying into the installation and operation of clean power plants, ranging from waste to energy, such as solar, biomass, hydro, and wind, as well as climate-smart farming.

“The most challenging issue I faced was outstripping the issue of age to earn trust. A lot of policies out there don’t favor young people. We are accused of having no experience and no money to run businesses of our dreams,” he says.


His work has paid off. Nzeyimana employs 25 people. To top it off, he shared a stage on a panel with former US President Barack Obama and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the Global Innovation Summit last year.


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Founder of Omo Alata

The desire to work on a business that would showcase her creativity led 2015 SLA-Entrepreneur Showcase winner Kasope Ladipo-Ajai to starting her food processing company Omo Alata.

The Nigeria-based food service brand, launched in 2012, is focused on the production and sale of hygienically processed and packaged Nigerian soups, spices and peppers. It aims to promote healthy eating and to make cooking easier for busy people.
Travel, particularly to advanced countries, exposed Kasope to the possibilities of quick and convenient meal preparation. While on her trips, she went to various African stores and realized that many of the ingredients for cooking Nigerian meals were not produced or packaged in Nigeria. This is largely due to packaging issues in the country which rules out the exporting of some its food products.

Kasope: “We have all these products but why can’t we package it properly? If we package it properly then we can export it.” It was with this realization that the idea for a food service brand was birthed. Kasope decided to start by packaging pepper. “It is a produce that is basic to us in Nigeria.”

Once she had the concept for Omo Alata in mind, she solidified her decision to venture into entrepreneurship by registering the business. Kasope then carried out research on the product she was trying to launch. She looked into sourcing fresh produce, and best practices for cleaning, processing and packaging it.

She also solicited advice about brand development from knowledgeable people in her network. A lot of work was put into the graphic and package design aspect of it. Kasope knew that she had to come up with something that would both look right and catch people’s attention. The package itself, too, had to be functional.
Kasope and her partner leveraged their personal income to get the business off the ground. “We had limited funds to play with. We asked ourselves, ‘What do we need to do?’ and ‘What’s the best way to do it?’” There were essentials for their company that they couldn’t avoid spending money on.

These included securing a factory space as well as the necessary equipment for production. They had to get creative when it came to spending money on professional services that they really needed.

“We leverage on our family and friends expertise for such,” Kasope said. “We told them our vision and asked them to work with us, and we pay them in kind or later.”
Kasope has had to tackle several challenges that come with running a business in the food industry. For starters the raw materials that are used for making Omo Alata products are seasonal. “The produce gets expensive when it is out of season,” she said. “The suppliers will try to exploit you.”

“You have to be on your toes checking to make sure suppliers are not taking advantage of the fact that you have a relationship with them,” she added. Farm produce does not have a fixed price. Kasope constantly checks the market to make sure that she is being charged the correct seasonal price.

(Read the rest of her inspiring story here: )