Impacting Farmers, One Banana at a Time
In Tanzania alone, 4.6 million tons of produce is lost annually, due to poor transportation and storage. When a farmer harvests bananas, or any other crop, as much as 40% of these bananas will be lost, post-harvest. This loss has ripple down effects on farmers and consumers. EA Fruits is beginning to put a dent, not in the fruit, but in the problem.
From 1,200 tons to 180,000 tons
Winning the African Entrepreneurship Award accelerated the impact of EA Fruits and provided the funding for Elia to quickly scale. Elia says, “We were very focused when we started the journey with AEA;” however, he admits that without seed funding the growth they are experiencing now “probably would have taken 15 years.” Funding from AEA helped Elia immediately build one of the largest cold storage facilities in Tanzania.
Elia says their capacity was at about 1,200 tons of produce, annually, before the Award. The new cold storage facility can now handle a whopping 180,000 tons, annually. To fill the warehouse with produce, EA Fruits now owns a fleet of trucks that travel to farms, and properly package and deliver the produce to the warehouse. The complete process decreases food loss.
“That has lived with me until now, whenever I pitch…”
During the Award’s free, online round mentoring, one mentor advised Elia to “plan to communicate results to key influencers/stakeholders who can help propel your idea.” Communicating the potential impact of EA Fruits is precisely where Elia still needed to improve. The soft-spoken, humble Tanzanian did not lack passion or vision, but packaging.
The Sweetest Fruit…Working Capital
Some of the sweetest lessons of all, for Elia, have come since winning the Award in October of 2015. Elia says that an Award mentor told him that, “if we could invest in working capital, our business could grow very quickly.” After three years of positive growth, this investment in working capital helped EA Fruits increase their growth even further, and ensures they stay out of the red, and into the fresh.