‘My mother told me to dare.’ Inspiring stories from high-level African Development Bank women’s summit

Nafissa Hamidou Abdoulaye has been praised far and wide for her ground-breaking work in agriculture, but securing financing has been an uphill battle. That was until now.

The African Development Bank has decided to jump in and support Abdoulaye, who has for the past five years self-financed her animal feed company Salma, which employs 10 people.

Abdoulaye’s story inspired African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina after she spoke at the high-level regional summit of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on April 17, 2019.

The summit was the first regional gathering of the newly formed We-Fi, and was called to discuss how women-owned SMEs can overcome barriers to financing.

The event, co-hosted by the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, heard many accounts of how women had struggled to make headway as entrepreneurs.

Abdoulaye spoke about how she had been motivated by her mother, a housewife who had raised her and her four siblings as a single parent.  “She told me to dare, don’t just be a mother in the household. Be a woman who in just a few years will be known,” Abdoulaye said.

In 2014, she founded Salma after noticing the vast quantities amounts of animal feed being imported into her country, Niger. Salma used local ingredients to create her feed.

Since then, Abdoulaye has won plaudits for her venture, including being named one of the Francophonie 35 people under 35 to watch in West Africa.

Patricia Zoundi, the founder of Quick Cash and Canaanland  also shared her story at the We-Fi summit.. Quick Cash is a mobile service that allows people in rural areas to transfer money without an internet connection. Canaanland offers a range of services to rural people, such as training and helping them gain access to markets.

Shortly after the two women spoke, Adesina took to the stage and announced that the Bank would invest in Zandou and Abdoulaye’s businesses.

Adesina said Africa’s economy could only thrive once women were brought on board.

“When women win, Africa wins. Truth be told, women run Africa,” Adesina told delegates.

Other major announcements at the We-Fi Summit included a US $2 million facility for 300 cocoa cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire, by Mars, Nestle, Hershey and other multinationals, along with USAID and the World Cocoa Foundation. A further 500 associations will also be given access to the formal financing market.

The announcement was made by Ivanka Trump, senior advisor to US President Donald Trump, who had earlier visited a successful cocoa farm run by an association made up women outside Abidjan.

“This was a perfect example of women championing women, women supporting women … This is what happens when women work together, but you need the role models, because, unless you see it, you can’t believe it’s possible,” Trump said.

World Bank president Kristalina Georgieva said her institution had developed innovative tools to help women overcome barriers to financing.

“With gender equality, the wealth of our planet could be $164 trillion greater. So we owe it to everyone to remove the barriers that women face,” she said.

Bandar Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank, said We-Fi was an opportunity for his bank to increase its focus on women-led SMEs under its Business Resilience Assistance for the Value-Adding Enterprises (BRAVE) programme.

“Through the grant provided under We-Fi, the Islamic Development Bank targets the specific barriers women enterprises are facing to enhance their resilience in fragile contexts as potential engines for innovation, employment and sustainable inclusive growth,” Hajjar said.

We-Fi is a US$345 million fund that seeks to promote financing for women. It is a collaborative partnership among 14 governments, eight implementing partners, multilateral development banks, and other public and private sector stakeholders.


Mondelēz International Makes Minority Investment in Hu, a Healthy-Lifestyle Snacking Company

Mondelēz International announced on Thursday it has made a minority investment in Hu (as in “Human”) Master Holdings, the parent company of both Hu Products and Hu Kitchen, a fast-growing US-based snacking company offering minimally processed, high-quality snacks.

Hu Kitchen

This is the second venture investment Mondelēz International is making as part of SnackFutures, its innovation and venture hub aimed at unlocking snacking growth opportunities around the world. This investment falls into two of SnackFutures’ high-growth strategic priorities: well-being and premium.

Founded in 2012 as a family business by Jason H. Karp and siblings Jordan Brown and Jessica (Brown) Karp, Hu began as Hu Kitchen in New York City, a high-end kitchen and market focused on delicious, paleo-inspired foods with simple, real ingredients. The Hu Kitchen market section quickly became a proof-of-concept CPG testing ground, prompting the company to expand its medal-winning, vegan and paleo-friendly chocolate products (free of refined sugar, soy, dairy and gluten). Today, Hu has developed into a premium, multi-SKU brand portfolio of wellness-focused, vegan/paleo-friendly snacking products with a devoted following.

“As the global snacking leader, we’re on a mission to lead the future of snacking and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Investing in Hu offers our company an opportunity to do exactly that,” said Tim Cofer, Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer of Mondelēz International. “The Hu brand sits at the convergence of key growing consumer trends. Building on its initial success in chocolate, we believe there’s an exciting opportunity to continue expanding the Hu proposition into a broad health-focused snacking platform across categories. And, with an in-house test kitchen and insights lab, they have a unique ability to quickly test and learn.”

“Jordan, Jessica and I started Hu because we wanted a place where we could trust and understand every ingredient in our food,” said Jason H. Karp, Chairman and Co-Founder of Hu. We chose Mondelēz International as a minority investor because we believe their resources, strengths and progressive vision of SnackFutures can help us accelerate positive change within snacking. This partnership should allow the Hu platform to grow and reach more people in a better and broader way than on our own.”

Co-founder Jordan Brown added: “Hu is our passion, and we’re thrilled to fuel its growth with Mondelēz International as our partner. Our perpetual goal is to marry great taste with no weird ingredients, and we’re big believers that using these simpler ingredients can make people feel and perform better than they thought possible. Our new partnership will help us advance this ‘Get Back To Human’ concept to a global audience.”

AfDB organizes roadshow to whet investor interest ahead of Africa Investment Forum 2019

Department and city businesses

The African Development Bank has organised a roadshow to drum up support from Angolan investors ahead of the second edition of the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in November 2019.

The Angola Country Office of the African Development Bank Group, in collaboration with Executive Director of the Export Promotion and Private Investment Agency (AIPEX) and the Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP), organized the Luanda roadshow, held on 11 April 2019. About 170 participants from the public and private sector attended.

The Bank’s maiden investment forum held in November 2018 saw an unprecedented gathering of world-class investors, meeting with the aim of bridging the continent’s growing infrastructure investment gap. The event exceeded all expectations with projects worth over US$38.7 billion securing investment interest in 72 hours.

 Joseph Ribeiro, Bank Country manager for Angola, Ezekiel Odiogo, the Africa Investment Forum Department’s Head of Private Sector Investment Operations, Neima Ferreira, Senior Investment Officer of the Africa Investment Forum and Elsa Nabenge, consultant economist and local private sector focal point, represented the Bank team at the event.

During the event, Marcelino Pinto, MEP Director for Economy, Competitiveness and Innovation and José Chinjamba, AIPEX Executive Director, showcased Angola’s economic reform plans over the last 15 months, aimed at attracting foreign investments and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

They highlighted the fact that the Angolan authorities had established the Domestic Production, Export Diversification, and Import Substitution programme (PRODESI), as part of its agenda to achieve accelerated private sector-led economic diversification.  

 “The implemented and ongoing set of reforms, as well as the instruments of credit facilitation, attest to the Government’s willingness to support private activities in order to take advantage of opportunities offered by platforms such as the Africa Investment Forum,” Pinto told participants, made up of representatives of commercial banks, development financial institutions, transaction advisors and investment fund managers.

Also addressing the gathering, Ribeiro said Angola needed substantial investments in strategic sectors for diversified economic development, in order to enhance its position as Sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest economy.

“To this end, it is not only fundamental, but necessary, to join efforts to overcome the challenges that are posed to the development of the private sector in Angola,” he added.

Representatives of chambers of commerce in Angola, start-ups and accelerators, project sponsors, promoters and developers also attended the event.

To date, 26 projects have been identified in Angola, covering various sectors including infrastructure, agribusiness, waste management and recycling, renewable energy and ICT. The projects are currently being screened through ongoing B2B sessions.   

The Angola roadshow is one of several other events to be convened in the Southern Africa region by the Bank’s Africa Investment Forum team in preparation for the 2019 Forum, which will take place from 13-15 November 2019, at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

Investment in the agro-industry could save the Sierra Leone economy

By Alpha Bedoh Kamara

Sierra Leone Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Jonathan Joseph Ndanema, said in 2018 at the Agro-Tourism Festival in Bonthe Municipal Island that ‘his ministry was working on transforming agriculture into a business adventure capable of producing enough food for consumption and for export’.

The minister’s statement, like similar ones made by previous ministers, captured the attention of the local media, making the headlines in the news. People in small towns and villages who make the bulk of the farming community heard the pronouncement on radio and during barray talks, while the fortunate few in big towns and cities saw his animated oratory on TV and on the front pages of the major newspapers.

Unfortunately, the status of the agriculture sector in the country is still in a moribund state yet in craftily prepared government papers the sector is a ‘success story that will soon be‘ producing enough food for consumption and for export’.  It is sad that despite what was said during the campaign amid laudable promises made to address the challenges affecting the agricultural sector for sustainable food production through proactive agro-investment opportunities, the country’s staple food is still being largely imported from Asia.

This situation largely affects women in the country who make the majority of the country’s population as well as the majority engaged in farming activities. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation (FAO) 2018 report captioned, Country Gender Assessment Series: National gender profile of agriculture and rural livelihoods – Sierra Leone, “…Sufficient effort has not been made by the GoSL and its partners to ensure equitable access to natural resources and means of production. Rural women farmers deserve better recognition and greater appreciation of their tangible contributions to agriculture, rural development and food security”.

There are so many calls to attention for the Government of Sierra Leone to address the problems affecting the agricultural industry, yet things never change. Sierra Leone was among the leading exporters of agricultural produce in Africa. The country was a net exporter of cocoa, coffee, piassavas, rubber, palm oil, sugar and rice, among many other agricultural goods.

Today, Sierra Leone is a net importer of food because of poor governance and neglect by the administrators and the once lucrative sector left in lie fallow. Therefore, the country doesn’t need any other agricultural jargon to put the people at ease. There have been too many, spanning from Green Revolution, National Food Security, and many others, yet imported food is driving out local farmers from the farms.

The people are tired of hearing this rhetoric and want the Government to not only be talking the talk, but working the talk, so that the country could once more produce enough food for consumption and for export.

The lack of sustained and unbiased government investments in this sector as well as high level of corruption in the implementation of public agricultural projects, poor awareness raising about marketing potentials and poor publicity of local goods in the international market affect agricultural activities.

There is too much to gain from this sector but unfortunately instead of clearing the land to plough for food the land is being destroyed by widespread mining activities while the government is signing licenses for miners to continue dig the land for minerals! The once fertile lands in the East and the South which were once the harbingers for sustained food production for local consumption and export are today struggling with the scar of deep mining, and the North – presently being drained for iron ore!

Until the Government think out of the box by realizing that addressing the needs of the people through direct intervention in the agricultural sector is the only way the problem of hunger could be addressed. I am hopeful President Maada Bio will not again join the bandwagon of presidents who put the people on edge with flowery ‘agricultural jargons’ but rather will make sure his minister of agriculture not only rely on international stakeholders to salvage the country from the present agricultural malaise, but ensure money budgeted for agriculture is put to effective use in the best interest of the country. The country also needs a better and reliable statistical data of all agricultural activities, the types of farming and their impact in the local market. The data will help the government to take informed decisions for effective budgeting and channeling of grants and incentives from the government/NGOs to local farmers.

Therefore instead of just embarking on nationwide tours of small agricultural fairs for speech making, the ministry of agriculture should be engaging local farmers to understand their needs and challenges that affect this sector. Lack of a strong local market, unavailable or poor infrastructure for the majority of farm communities, lack of electricity and technical support, and cheap imported foodstuff are some of the hindrances putting local farmers out of jobs.

The country will only make sustainable food production for local consumption and for export if the Government stops playing with the farmers vulnerabilities by putting a stop to ‘white elephant’ agricultural projects and ensures transparency and accountability in the ministry as well as private sector investments. 

Marriott Hotels brings TED Fellows Salon to the mother city inspiring “Vibrant Innovation”

Bill and Steve at Marriott Hotels TEd Salon Cape Town

Marriott Hotels (www.MarriottHotels.com) in partnership with TED, hosted its first TED Fellows Salon in Cape Town, South Africa, sparking conversations around Africa’s beauty, rich heritage and innovative spirit.

Held at the Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers, renowned TED Fellows, Kenyan musician Bill Sellanga and South African conservation biologist Steve Boyes, led the innovative and thought-provoking discussion providing guests the opportunity to engage and be inspired.

“At Marriott Hotels, everything we do is guided by our belief that travel expands the mind and triggers new and creative ways of thinking,” said Sandra Schulze-Potgieter, Vice President Premium & Select Brands, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “Our partnership with TED brings together creative energy and distinct aesthetic. In recent years, Cape Town has shifted its focus to making the city more sustainable, encouraging citizens to innovate while maintaining its rich heritage. Hosting our first TED Fellows Salon at Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers is an opportunity for us to spark intellectual conversations and inspire new perspectives for our guests.”

Dr Steve Boyes at Marriott Hotels TED Salon Cape Town

The speakers at this Marriott Hotels TED Salon represent some of the brightest thinkers of their generation who are working towards making positive, meaningful and lasting change in their communities. Steve Boyes explores, protects and restores some of the most remote wildernesses in Africa, including the threatened Okavango Delta, one of our last remaining fresh watersheds. Working with the Angolan government, Boyes recently established two of the largest protected areas in Sub-Saharan Africa amounting to twice the size of England. A trained ornithologist, he is the Executive Director of the Wild Bird Trust and a Fellow at the National Geographic Society.

Sharing the spotlight with Boyes was TED fellow Bill “Blinky” Sellanga. A prolific Kenyan producer and musician, Sellanga is the frontman of musical collective Just A Band, which mixes genres like hip-hop, electronica and funk to make music for popular radio and to give voice to the Kenyan youth. He recently released his first solo album, Everyone’s Just Winging It and Other Fly Tales, weaving African rhythms together with electronic cuts, hip-hop and funk for a unique-brand of “African cool.”

Bill Sellanga – Marriott Hotels TED Salon Cape Town

Held at the Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers, the event was attended by thought leaders, innovators, members of the recently launched travel platform, Marriott Bonvoy and media. Overlooking the Grand Canal in Century City, Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers formed the perfect backdrop for the Cape Town edition of the TED Fellows Salon. Whether you admire the view of Table Mountain from the exquisite outdoor swimming pool or settle down after a busy day in a guest room with sleek furnishings and ultra-soft, plush bedding, a stay at the Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers promises to be a journey that inspires brilliance.

The ongoing global partnership between Marriott Hotels and TED is now in its third year, following its launch in 2016, and has been expanded to include more exciting and innovative programming at Marriott Hotels in key destinations worldwide. Marriott Hotels is a brand that’s geared towards a new generation of travelers, who continuously seek fresh inspirations and creative ideas during their own life-changing journeys around the world.

The Cape Town edition is the third TED Fellows Salon to be held within Middle East and Africa with two previous ones being held at Cairo and Abu Dhabi. TED Salons have been hosted in several Marriott Hotels globally, including Bengaluru, Bangkok, London, and Athens. Marriott Hotels also has an Instagram story series, #MarriottHotelsxTEDFellows, which offers viewers original, inspiring content and an inside look at their favorite idea engine. To watch the series, follow @marriotthotels on Instagram and stay tuned for content throughout the year.

Mondelēz International Partners with Food Business Incubator, The Hatchery Chicago

Photo credit: Food Business News

Mondelēz International has announced a partnership with The Hatchery Chicago, a non-profit food business incubator, as it ramps up its innovation efforts to lead the future of snacking.

The partnership is one of several investments the company is making as part of SnackFutures, the company’s innovation and venture hub aimed at unlocking snacking growth opportunities around the world.

Through the new partnership, Mondelēz International and the SnackFutures team will be able to connect with the local food and beverage start-up community and work together to accelerate and scale innovation. Mondelēz International will work with The Hatchery Chicago to offer educational opportunities and mentorship to entrepreneurs active in Chicago’s thriving food and drink scene.

“We are truly impressed with the talented start-ups coming out of The Hatchery and are excited to be part of this journey. As the world’s snacking leader, it is increasingly important for us to collaborate with the best and brightest talent in advancing the future of snacking,” said Tim Cofer, Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer of Mondelēz International. “With SnackFutures, we want to disrupt the food industry by testing new ideas and scaling what works. Working with The Hatchery food entrepreneurs will help us push the boundaries of what is possible in snacking as we continue to build our ecosystem of partners while also giving back and offering guidance to new companies.”

As one of the largest food incubation spaces in the U.S., The Hatchery helps local entrepreneurs build and grow successful food and beverage businesses through three major areas of need: access to production space, financing and resources. Housed in 67,000-square-foot facility in the East Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago, it provides job training and placement programs, creating sustainable economic growth and new job opportunities.

“At The Hatchery Chicago, we believe collaboration accelerates innovation and increases the rate of success for companies – big and small,” says Natalie Shmulik, CEO of The Hatchery Chicago.

“Through this partnership with Mondelēz International, we’re creating even more opportunities for our entrepreneurs and community members to access the mentorship and industry expertise that will help them take their business to the next level.”

A key pillar of the company’s consumer-centric growth strategy, SnackFutures is designed as an independent hub that brings three core tenets of growth under one umbrella to accelerate innovation: invention of new brands and businesses; reinvention of small-scale brands with large-scale potential, and venture investments with start-up entrepreneurs to bring emerging brands and strategic capabilities.

Supported by an unconventional ecosystem of best-in-class internal experts and external partners around the globe, SnackFutures seeks to collaborate in three key strategic areas: well-being snacks, premium snacks, digital platforms and capabilities. Check https://www.snackfutures.com/ for more information on how entrepreneurs and partners can submit innovative ideas.

Mondelēz International Takes Minority Investment in Uplift Food Start-Up

Mondelēz International announced it has taken a minority investment in Uplift Food, a US-based early-stage start-up focusing on prebiotic functional foods. This is the first venture investment the company is making as part of SnackFutures, the company’s innovation and venture hub aimed at unlocking snacking growth opportunities around the world.

A key pillar of the company’s consumer-centric growth strategy, SnackFutures is designed as an independent hub that brings three core tenets of growth under one umbrella to accelerate innovation: invention of new brands and businesses; reinvention of small-scale brands with large-scale potential, and venture investments with start-up entrepreneurs.

“As the global snacking leader, we’re on a clear mission to lead the future of snacking by providing the right snack, for the right moment, made the right way,” said Tim Cofer, Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer of Mondelēz International. “Together with Uplift Food, we have a unique opportunity to disrupt the functional food category by delivering ‘snackable’ products focusing on gut health – something that does not exist today.”

Functional snacking is a strategic area for SnackFutures as consumers are increasingly looking for their snacks to deliver benefits but options are currently limited. The SnackFutures team will work with Uplift Food to make gut health more understandable, accessible, and enjoyable through new forms and flavors. Beyond the financial investment, SnackFutures will also provide strategic support in areas like marketing, distribution, R&D and sourcing.

“Partnering with SnackFutures will undeniably strengthen Uplift Food’s capacity to live our mission of seeing everyone benefit from the consumption of gut healthy foods. The SnackFutures team provides the industry experience needed to make our dream a reality, and the continued support they show us to hold onto our nutritional and ingredient integrity allows us to remain true to our core values and grow,” said Kara Landau, Dietitian and Founder Uplift Food.

Supported by an unconventional ecosystem of best-in-class internal experts and external partners around the globe, SnackFutures seeks to collaborate in three key strategic areas: well-being snacks, premium snacks, digital platforms and capabilities.