Affiong Williams holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Psychology, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. In 2018 Affiong attended the Seed Transformation Program of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, USA. In 2008, Affiong started working with Endeavour South Africa. In 2012, she left her Portfolio Manager position and returned to Nigeria, where she started her own agribusiness, ReelFruit.

Affiong was listed by Forbes as one of Africa’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs in 2015. She is also the winner of the “Women In Business Challenge” organised in 2013 by BidNetwork (the Netherlands), and received a €5000 award to support the growth of ReelFruit.

Affiong Williams

CEO, ReelFruit

Business Location: Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria

Type: Limited Liability Company
Founded: 2013
Employees: 180+
CEO: Affiong Williams

Business model

ReelFruit produces processed fruit to build a globally competitive fruit business. The company has a twofold objective: to make Nigerian food products that meet world-class standards and market them everywhere; and to invest in the potential of Nigerian agriculture for wealth and job creation.

ReelFruit works actively to empower women by introducing female farmers to high-value mango farming. To this end, 45 women aged between 18 and 50, who have on average 3 children, are receiving Global G.A.P. training on mango farming.

ReelFruit creates new value chains by processing fresh fruit into value-added convenience products such as snacks, and by building its own network for distribution. Affiong created ReelFruit in order to match the local Nigerian fruit production with the demand. Nigeria is the largest producer of fresh fruit in Sub-Saharan Africa, exporting less than 1% of its production, but processing less than 5% of all fruit despite growing demand at local and international levels. So in 2013 ReelFruit started producing and marketing dried mango and pineapple snacks. They were first sold at the Prince Ebeano Supermarket, Lekki.

ReelFruit focuses on five channels: formal retail, airlines, schools, hotels and the informal mass market. It is the biggest producing, processing, manufacturing and marketing fruit company in Nigeria.

Within less than ten years, ReelFruit expanded its product range with new products such as dried coconut, banana and plantains, as well as nuts. It also increased its store presence to over 470 locations in Nigeria and started to export internationally, to Switzerland, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and the USA (via Amazon).

Affiong has won a SME competition, organised in 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria, by Creative Focus Africa, for her ReelFruit business. She received a monetary award, as well as business consulting.

In 2014, Affiong was selected as one of ten finalists for the first business plan competition organised by the Islamic Development Bank.

Strong relationships with smallholders

ReelFruit supplies farmers with seedlings, inputs, training and technical support in order to improve the production of mango varieties via standardised management practices. The company also guarantees to the farmers market access for their harvested mangoes and an income based on a profit-share reward system.

ReelFruit engages with more than 250 farmers of which 40% are women.

Products covered and markets

ReelFruit has a product range of products, focusing on healthy dried fruit snacks such as dried mango, pineapple coconut, banana and plantains. It also mixes dried fruit with nuts and produces salted cashews. ReelFruit’s snack product range includes sweetened coconut flakes and coconut chips series.

Reelfruit also produces snacks retailed in schools in order to promote healthy eating habits.

ReelFruit is involved at all stages of the value chain, from farming to marketing and distribution, including transport, warehousing, processing and packaging. It also works at building its own network for distribution.

Reelfruit is approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Innovations: Milestones and expansion plans

ReelFruit is a beneficiary of the IDH Sustainable Trade initiative, which funded a 14-acre mango farm in Anturu, Kaduna, with 6500 stands of Keitt and Kent mangoes to support women and train them in mango farming.

ReelFruit also expanded its exports by partnering with Amazon for its deliveries to the US market, while currently building its own online shop for American exports.

By the end of 2021, ReelFruit will have built a fruit-processing facility located on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria, with a processing capacity of 1.5 tons of fresh fruit per day. The strategic location of the factory will reduce logistics costs of raw materials and of delivery to end consumers, thus providing farmers with higher prices for their produce.

ReelFruit also plans to increase its farmer network to over 300 growers.

Success factors and lessons learned

Owning its own distribution network and the interface with the markets is a key innnovation to better monitor how the products are presented in shops, and to adapt them according to customers’ feedback and changing demand. This also makes the expansion of the product range easier.

Having a diversified distribution network with various shops, as well as supplying different markets (local, export), helps to diversify the business and the products.

ReelFruit has trained its salaries, especially rural women, to grow high quality, export grade mangoes in Kaduna. Moreover, with its empowering women’s programme “Female Farmers To High-Value Mango Farming”, ReelFruit has contributed to a 300% increase in farmers’ incomes, thus improving their quality of life and standard of living. The profit sharing of mango sales, as well as the introduction of intercropping short-term crops with guaranteed market access, increase the farmers’ income.

ReelFruit also pays its farmers a fixed monthly salary.

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