Exporting chillies from Rwanda: how this entrepreneur built her business

In 2017, Sakina Usengimana worked in Rwanda’s hospitality industry when she attended a Youth Connekt UNDP seminar where a speaker delivered a message she would never forget. “You have land, yet you are hungry. Those are the exact words he used to talk about the African continent. Hearing that, I was determined to do something to bring about change. That is when I began farming with fruits and vegetables.”

Her first crops were bell peppers and tomatoes, but neither proved a success. “I did not have the skills,” she admits. Knowing her shortcomings, Usengimana quit agriculture to continue her studies. She was planning on returning to her corporate job once done, but something convinced her to try agriculture again.

This time she brought in two partners and together they procured land to cultivate chilies. Unfortunately, the second attempt also failed. According to Usengimana, contributing factors were not having a professional agronomist on board and the distance of the farmland from Kigali where she and her partners lived. After three harvests, they called it quits.

In 2019, she asked the chairman of the Rwanda Horticulture Exporters Association to link her with a client for chili. He connected her with an importer from the Netherlands. Usengimana established Afri Foods, found chili farmers to supply the contract and sent the shipment abroad.

Read the complete article at www.howwemadeitinafrica.com.

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