Yyvonne is dedicating to reducing food waste through farmer certification, value addition and market facilitation. With previous experience as a journalist on radio and newspaper, Yvonne decided to use her communication skills to help communities make informed decisions. Now, she has 16 years of experience working in international organizations as a development communication specialist, and she still fulfils short-term communication consultancy assignments which contribute to making a better Africa.

Yvonne Otieno

CEO, Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT

Business Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Type: Limited Liability Company
Year of Founding: 2015
CEO: Yvonne Otieno

Mission: To provide fresh, quality and wholesome produce that meets international food quality standards

Vision: To be the leading suppliers of quality horticultural products from Africa

Founding

Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT is a Kenyan family business that produces quality horticultural products grown fairly, sustainably and under the highest food safety standards. It was created to tackle two challenges, namely the high proportion of food was going to waste at the farm level and the increasingly high demands of food, with innovative solutions that create employment for women in rural Kenya. It started as a 10 acre, transitional horticultural farm located in Machakos County.

Approximately 30 to 40% of all fruits and vegetables that the company receives from farmers would be rejected and go to waste, due to unfavorable varieties, lack of certification and aesthetics. Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT recognises the nutritional value of these produces transforms them into powder and dried fruits using innovate agro processing technologies.

Relationship with Smallholders

The company works with a network over 5,000 smallholders out growers of fresh fruits and vegetables across East Africa. Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT supports farmers in growing suitable crop varieties and implementing good agricultural practices that allow for the produce to meet international food safety standards. It also supports them in processing raw materials to added value products, to increase their revenues.

Products Covered and Markets

The fresh fruits include Hass avocado, Fuerte avocado, purple passion, yellow passion, fine beans, sugar snaps and mange tout. Each of their fresh foods include a descriptive product specification, detailing the quality, packaging and delivery of the product, as well as its seasonal availability. The dried fruits include a selection of mango, banana, pineapple and coconut. These products also include a detailed description the product’s origin and background, as well as how to use the dried fruit, in addition to a calendar of availability. The food powders include mango, banana, moringa and coconut powder.

The company exports its fresh fruit and vegetables to the regional (including South Africa) and international markets (Germany, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and UK).

The company helps train their out growers to be Global GAP certified, and is beginning to train them to be organic certified.

Innovations: Milestones and Expansion Plans

Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT recognized that one of the factors leading to food loss is attributed to the seasonality of fruits. Due to regional differences in this seasonality, many factories become idle for half of the year, since they would need to travel long distances to obtain raw materials for processing. Miyonga’s solution to this challenge is carried out through their program Wheeling Fruits, a mobile fruit processor that can move from region to region and process the fruits that are in season. To support these efforts, they are also training smallholder farmers to grow suitable crop varieties that are in high demand while also training them in the adoption of modern agricultural practices, helping them achieve certifications that increase their access to markets.

The demand for sustainably grown, and healthy food is higher than supply, hence there is a need for further partnerships with actors from different regions and countries to support their supply chain system. Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT plans to have more mobile fruit factories in different regions of the country, to establish a central packing facility/hub where these can be packed and exported, and to have a franchise model for mobile and stationary factories across East Africa, where everything about their business can be shared with others.

Success Factors and Lessons Learned

Company’s director Yvonne attributes the success of her company to changing the focus from only striving to be profitable, to being impactful as well. Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT ensures that production is sustainable by placing people over profits, and providing solutions to the challenges that the surrounding community faces. It is a champion in delivering positive social impacts, including through strengthening food security, gender and innovation in agriculture and in environmental sustainability and resource management.

Since its creation, the company has created about 7,500 jobs, enabled over 30,000 farmers to earn an income and improved an estimated 195,000 lives. It also overcomes the loss of income that farmers would face by wasting part of their production and provides them with an access to global markets by supporting them with growing suitable crop varieties and implementing good agricultural practices that allow for the produce to meet international food safety standards.

Key factors for growth and success of the company are being involved with smallholder farmers, as well as engaging with various partners and networks of support. Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT participated in a programme that helped them grow from being farmers to entrepreneurs. It developed different models of business and strengthened its aspects of sustainability programs in their production with various development partners, including the International Trade Center and the German Development Corporation.Moreover, it is essential to work with development partners as banks usually don’t provide the necessary financial support. To boost their innovative ideas, Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT needed to identify partnership organisations that saw the potential of their solutions, and were ready to support with research that allowed for the idea to transform into results. These partnerships enabled the company to target the training of nearly 2,400 farmers and to invest in long-term, sustainable results.

Miyonga Fresh Greens ENT has won several awards and gained recognition for its accomplishments. They were awarded at the Sinapis Business Plan Competition at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2014 and received the Gender in Innovation in Agriculture Award 2016, as well as the Social Impact Award in Nairobi Innovation week 2017. Miyonga was also selected among the Top 50 innovators in Africa at the Africa Innovation Summit 2018.

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