The AGA (Africa Growth Action) has won the first prize of the BID Challenge in the category "established enterprises" for its proposal to produce and export dried organic fruits from Cameroon to international markets. The prize is worth EUR 20,000. AGA organizes farmers to grow organic fruits (papaya, pineapple, banana, mangoes) according to international standards. The fruits are processed with solar energy dryers in a manner that preserves their vitamins. The packaged dried fruit are then sent to international markets in the United States and Europe.
The organic snacks project allows snack lovers to enjoy their meal with additional health benefits from the vitamins contained in the fruits. The project will employ 25 people directly and about 80 farmers indirectly by 2008. The prize money will be used mainly for advance payment for technical assistance of farmers and certifications fees, says Laure Yossa, founder and director of AGA and AGA FOOD.
The jury judged the proposals on the basis of three criteria: the entrepreneur, the business plan and its contribution to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Pieter Bas Schrieken, one of the jury members explains the jury decision: "Yossa has had a very good university education in the United States. She has built up a strong network and she speaks both English and French. On the other side, she has here roots in Cameroon, so she is connected with two worlds, a unique combination."
The business plan was described as 'solid'. Two major American retailers have recently asked AGA to guarantee its capabilities to provide them with regular shipments of consistent quality and quantity levels. They do not represent the traditional niche players but more conventional players, likely to order and to market huge volumes of products.
The commercial prospects are therefore likely to be very encouraging for the years to come. According to the jury member: "Yossa has also reflected upon almost every detail of the proposal. The infrastructure to collect the fruit from the farmers is in place and so is the cold store facility. She has also thought about the possibility of crop failures in relation to the international contract obligations."
AGA’s contribution to the MDGs lie in the fact that the enterprise is far more than a middleman: farmers own 15 per cent of the enterprise, so they share in the profits. It also provides Farmers with the education necessary to apply to the international food and health demands. The BID challenge is a worldwide business plan competition for small- and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries, both established and start-ups.