Six Entrepreneurs Capitalising on Tanzania’s Agribusiness Opportunities
May 15, 2023
From poultry farming to cashew nut processing, we highlight the stories of six Tanzanian agribusiness and food entrepreneurs who have made their mark on the local and global markets.
1. Poultry entrepreneur establishes innovative franchise model
Entrepreneur Ann-Elizabeth Swai founded AKM Glitters, a Tanzanian poultry business that operates on a franchise model rather than selling chicken meat and eggs directly to consumers. Referred to as ‘brooder enterprises’, franchisees are supplied with comprehensive farm inputs and technical services to operate their poultry ventures. Based in Dar es Salaam, AKM Glitters equips smallholder farmers with day-old chicks, feeds, vaccines, drugs, drinkers, feeders, poultry guidebooks, and other essential tools and resources. Additionally, the company offers extension services and training. After raising the chickens for approximately four weeks, franchisees sell them, generating profits of 20-30%.
2. Turning sweet potatoes into a growing food brand
In 2019, Tanzanian entrepreneur Jolenta Joseph founded Sanavita, an agribusiness that processes biofortified crops into food products. Initially, the company focused on orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, a biofortified variety high in beta-carotene. As demand increased, Joseph found a way to extend the shelf life of the sweet potatoes by drying them using solar energy, preserving their nutrients, and milling them into a nutritious composite flour. This flour was later enhanced with rice and pumpkin seed powder.
When the ministry of agriculture introduced a biofortified maize seed, Joseph encouraged her network of farmers to grow the crop. She then improved the maize powder by adding cassava for flavour. Additionally, she developed a biscuit using sweet potato puree, iron beans, and cashew nuts. These products became part of the Sanavita brand, and over the following years, the company experienced significant growth in production.
3. Cracking the cashew nut market
Tanzanian entrepreneur Fahad Awadh founded YYTZ Agro-Processing in 2015 to process and export cashew nuts. Despite initial obstacles and conservative bank managers, Awadh and his father pooled their resources to renovate a production facility in Zanzibar. Conducting research trips to Vietnam, Awadh learned about efficient manufacturing processes and invested in mechanisation. In 2016, YYTZ received a $500,000 grant from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, which helped increase the company’s production capacity. YYTZ now sells its ‘More than Cashews’ brand online and in supermarkets across East Africa, Europe, and North America. The cashews are processed and flavoured using local ingredients and Zanzibar sea salt.
4. Filling the gap in organic tea
In 2016, Canadian-born Tahira Nizari moved to Tanzania and noticed a lack of locally-produced organic tea. She co-founded Kazi Yetu in 2018, with a goal to add value to African products for the international market. The company introduced the Tanzania Tea Collection, offering a range of fair trade, organic blended teas. Nizari’s experience with the Aga Khan Foundation provided her with insights into Tanzania’s agricultural industry. Kazi Yetu faced challenges in sourcing teas and ingredients from Tanzanian farms and cooperatives but has seen an increase in export volumes in recent years.
5. Honey business connects local farmers to global markets
Joseph Kadendula, a Tanzanian entrepreneur, began selling honey locally in 2014 after exploring beekeeping through online research. In 2015, he co-founded Central Park Bees with his brother Christopher Kadendula and a friend, Charles Kazaula. They focused on setting up the business, establishing a network of farmers, and preparing for the brand’s launch. By 2017, the company officially entered the market with the Swahili Honey brand. Central Park Bees now works with hundreds of local farmers, selling honey locally and exporting to other African countries and the Middle East.
6. Tanzanian entrepreneur builds business that exports vegetables to Europe
Hadija Jabiri, initially aspiring to follow Aliko Dangote’s footsteps, founded GBRI while studying at St. Augustine University in Tanzania. After facing financial challenges in manufacturing soap, Jabiri transitioned to horticulture. She bought land in Iringa, hired an experienced agronomist, and secured agreements with corporate customers. Seeking to grow her business, Jabiri networked extensively and eventually secured funding from a Dutch organisation and USAID. Focusing on European market demands, GBRI established the EatFresh brand and expanded its smallholder farmer network.