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Business Location: Serrekundo, the Gambia
Type: Limited Liability Company
Year of Founding: 2014
Number of Employees: 140; 120 of whom are women
CEO: Momarr Mass Taal
Mission: To add value to local produce to create market access and develop new market opportunities
Vision: Bridging the gap between smallholder farmers and international markets
Tropingo Foods Ltd. was created in 2014 upon Momarr’s return to the Gambia from Canada. The company initially exported groundnuts, Gambia’s largest export commodity. As the groundnut harvest season only lasts for four months, the company diversified its produce range with mangoes in 2016. Mango is a naturally abundant fruit in the Gambia and its harvest season begins immediately after the groundnuts season, ensuring ongoing activity throughout the entire year to Tropingo Foods Ltd. However, fresh mangoes are highly perishable and a large amount of them are wasted during the harvest season due to the lack of market. These crop losses are a major challenge for the Gambian agricultural sector as they prevent farmers from selling their production, and so reduce their income and limit job opportunities. Thus,Tropingo Foods Ltd. started to add value to fresh local mangoes by drying them to extend their shelf life up to a year and to create new market opportunities, especially for export.
Relationship with Smallholders
Tropingo Foods Ltd. has developed a strong relationship with cooperatives and farmers across the Gambia by including them into its out-grower programme. Through its out-grower programme, Tropingo Foods Ltd provides farmers with trainings on finance and business management basics to support them accessing the formal economy. It also commits to buy their production and offers them the opportunity to engage into semi-food processing to sell their production at a higher price while being provided with tools and skills required to process raw produces.
Tropingo Foods Ltd. sources fresh produces from a large number of producers and farmers in The Gambia, including from the Gambia National Women Farmers Association which regroups over 40,000 female farmers from 1,000 villages. In the mango market alone, Tropingo Foods Ltd. works with over 290 producers in The Gambia.
Products Covered and Markets
Tropingo Foods Ltd. produces, processes and distributes fruit (mainly mangoes), vegetables (such as okra and pepper), nuts (essentially peanuts and cashews )and spices. The company mango produce range includes fresh mangoes during the harvest season, as well as dried mango and mango juice throughout the entire year.
Tropingo Foods Ltd. also offers technical assistance to producers for them to improve the quality of their production and so to meet the quality standards of international markets. Tropingo Foods Ltd. has the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.
Tropingo Foods Ltd. is the first mango processing company in Gambia and runs the first mango processing facility (dehydration factory) of the country. Tropingo Foods Ltd. has become Gambia’s largest fresh produce supply chain company and one of the largest food processing companies in West Africa.
Tropingo Foods Ltd. is the largest mangoes exporter in Gambia. The company exports the majority of its production to the USA, UK, Europe, Asia and Russia, but also supplies regional markets such as Nigeria and Senegal. Moreover, the company is one of the largest groundnut exporters in Gambia, exporting mainly to Nigeria, Senegal, the Netherlands and China.
Innovations: Milestones and Expansion Plans
The early developments of Tropingo Foods Ltd. have been supported to a large extend by the Tony Elumelu Foundation. In 2015, Momaar Mass Taal, Tropingo Foods Ltd.’s founder, was one of the 1,000 selected entrepreneurs for the first Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. This enabled him to acquire key entrepreneurial skills by participating in intensive training curriculum, mentoring and entrepreneurship boot-camp, as well as to receive a $5,000 grant.
Since its creation, the company has improved and upscaled its production capacity and quality. The initial manual slicing of mangoes has, for example, been automatized with the acquisition of a slicing machine with conveyor belts. The company has also built its own mango juice processing facility.
Tropingo Foods Ltd. continuously analyses the market demand and trends by conducing market studies to identify new market opportunities and to inform producers about it so they can adapt their production.
The company is committed to reduce its environmental footprint and to promote circular economy. Its mango dehydration factory uses, for example, waste peanut shells (abundant in The Gambia) as biofuel to power dehydration facility.
Success Factors and Lessons Learned
Tropingo Foods Ltd. operates on a social business model and works with many local producers, especially women in rural areas, providing them a sustainable income. The company has contributed to a significant development of the fruit and vegetable sector in The Gambia by valorising local production, creating employment and trade opportunities, as well as providing technical and logistical support to local farmers. The company is committed to offer high quality products which comply with strict international quality standards at a competitive prices on the various markets.
The company’s positive impacts on the local economy and the environment have been recognized by many awards and distictions.
In addition to his position as the CEO of Tropingo Foods Ltd., Mass Taal is involved in various non-profit initiatives, including the sensitising action group Ebola Free Gambia and the (World Economic Forum’s) Global Shapers Community where has been serving since 2013 as the curator for the Banjul hub, The Gambia.
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