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WOVAKEDO: Uganda’s Youth Drive Avocado Value Chain Development

Value chain development of commercially-viable avocado industry in Uganda to enhance economic opportunities for youths.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

WOVAKEDO is a nascent agriculture social enterprise located in Southwest Uganda. WOVAKEDO is working with local youths and small scale farmers to develop an avocado value chain for both domestic consumption and export markets. We seek to maximize impact on youth employment and agriculture sector development through our three-phase, sustainable business model summarized as follows:

Phase I (6 Months): Avocado Value Addition (Avocado Oil).
Phase II (24 Months) Avocado Oil Capacity Expansion and Avocado Supply Development.
Phase III: (24 Months) Transition to Fresh Avocado Exports.

WHO BENEFITS?

In just the first two phases, the value chain alone has the capacity to directly employ over 10,000 youth in each region. Once we scale to avocado oil production during phase two and begin building the infrastructure for future Hass exports, we can directly expand economic activity to over 2 million youth in 10 years.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

WOVAKEDO was founded by Gerald Mbabazi Kabushenga, a Ugandan Agriprenuer with deep-rooted experience in the country’s agriculture sector and Brendan Somerville, an agriculture-focused entrepreneur who has managed numerous operations in many developing countries.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Uganda

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

This week, WOVAKEDO captured feedback learnings by hosting an engaging, 6-hour session with beneficiaries in the community in which we are currently working. Attendees represented potential beneficiaries throughout the entire avocado value chain -- from uneducated youths who could serve as entrepreneurs to maintain avocado trees to educated youths seeking to manage avocado operations. The overall response was astoundingly positive, with the key changes resulting from beneficiary feedback:

1. WOVAKEDO will outsource many of the value chain activities to entrepreneurial youths, rather than control all aspects through direct hiring. The motivated and entrepreneurial beneficiaries see the benefit in developing their own businesses around the industry.
2. Early employment will focus on less educated youths and then scale to include college graduates. Through beneficiary feedback, we realized that entrepreneurial and uneducated youths will be essential for elements at the beginning of the value chain.
3. Beneficiaries suggested that we also market avocados and avocado oil locally as a healthy nutritional item.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

WOVAKEDO seeks to be the first avocado company to connect Uganda to worldwide markets at significant scale. Below are some of our unique advantages and differentiating factors: 1. We will be the first company that connects the Ugandan avocado industry to export markets in Africa and abroad at significant scale. 2. We will be the the first Ugandan avocado company to assemble smallholder farmers across the entire country. We can do this by leveraging existing cooperative networks to which we are already connected. While approximately 70% of avocados exported from neighboring Kenya are sourced from smallholder farmers, Uganda has yet to leverage the power of the smallholder networks. 3.Avocados, unlike many other agricultural outputs from Uganda, are high value specialty crops for which demand is increasing rapidly worldwide. 4. We employ underemployed and unemployed youths throughout the entire value chain, from seed to sale. 5.Our diverse team has the skills necessary to succeed. Gerald has already assembled nearly 3,000 avocado growers. Brendan has built relationships with international buyers willing to purchase once we can meet quantity and quality requirements.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED?

The problem has not been solved for the following reasons:
1. Lack of integration and communication among grower networks
2. Logistics and infrastructure development have only recently made gains sufficient for viable export
3. Lack of technical know-how among growers was an issue
4. Demand for avocados has exploded the last 5 years and supply constraints have only recently been visible. Thus, there is a mismatch between high demand and low plantings that was not apparent in Uganda due to a lack of information access.
5. Investment required for equipment, machinery, education, and network development is a barrier to entry and expansion.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

The following are some answered questions:
1. What is the exact, current potential avocado supply of all networks in all of Uganda?
2. For which aspects of the value chain will we employ youths directly, and where should we create opportunities by entrepreneurial outsourcing instead (for instance, employ youths trained as pruners under our payroll or let youth businesses compete for the contracts).
3. How do we create the ideal human resources practices to recruit, develop, and retain talent for both skilled and unskilled positions?

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

WOVAKEDO was founded exclusively to revolutionize Uganda’s agriculture exports, further develop the agriculture sector, provide opportunities for tens of thousands of workers, and open new markets for an existing resource. While this vision is new not just for WOVAKEDO but for Uganda as well, the WOVAKEDO team is leveraging existing skills and experiences in the agriculture and import/export sector and applying them to avocados. As the founder of a successful coffee cooperative that leverages the capabilities of smallholder farmers, Gerald is applying many of the same lessons and skills to a new, more valuable crop. With significant experience in international logistics in emerging markets, Brendan is creating the key link that will transform avocados from underutilized pig feed or trash into value export items. To summarize, avocados are the “bread and butter” of WOVAKEDO and the fruit for which the venture was founded.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

The founding team of WOVAKEDO is fully devoted to implementing and scaling the venture, pending the ability to raise capital. The founding partners, Gerald and Brendan, have synergistic skillsets. Gerald is in charge of building avocado smallholder networks, farm operations and oil production operations, government liaison efforts, business development in Africa, and product management. Brendan spearheads customer acquisition, marketing, finance, and accounting.

Three Phases:

Phase I (6 Months): Avocado Value Addition (Avocado Oil). WOVAKEDO’s current proof of concept is up and running, as we are building avocado oil production capacity, with 100% of inputs sourced from a network of 2,000+ smallholder farmers. Avocado oil, which is rich in vitamins and used in both cooking and cosmetics, is stable enough to be transported without spoiling; as such, it provides the opportunity for cash flows, employment, and avocado sector development while an efficient logistics network is built to support fresh exports in the Phase III. We currently have an avocado oil cold press machine capable of producing 300 gallons per day with a local market value exceeding $1,000/day. The pulp/residue after extraction is then converted into animal feed and farm manure and sold as its own commodity for more monetary gain by the participating youth.

Phase II (24 Months) Avocado Oil Capacity Expansion and Avocado Supply Development: During Phase II, WOVAKEDO will scale and expand its smallholder farmer/outgrower network and avocado production centers to other regions in Uganda. Youths will serve critical roles, including delivery of avocado grafts to new growers, providing pruning services, managing collection centers, transporting goods, overseeing new regions, sorting and grading fruits, packaging, marketing and selling. During this phase, youths will also be instrumental in recruiting new growers to support future fresh exports.

Phase III: (24 Months) Transition to Fresh Avocado Exports. Connecting smallholder farmers to export markets for fresh avocados, with the support systems of a youth-dominated supply chain, will be maximize returns at all levels of the value chain.

Why Avocados?

Avocado Market Trends. Worldwide demand for avocado and avocado oil is skyrocketing, yet supply is constrained. The global avocado trade in 2014 exceeded $3B, with a compound annual growth rate of 13% from 2007 to 2014; the limiting factor is supply of avocados, so opening new export markets is critical to expand the pie. Avocado production is increasing—and will continue to increase—not only in large producing countries like Mexico, but also in Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and Kenya, among others. Avocado oil is also poised to become more mainstream, as Pinterest named avocado oil as the top food trend of 2016; however, it is currently limited due to lack of marketing and high prices.

Why Uganda?

Uganda has the consummate agriculture-climatic conditions required to grow avocados. Uganda's population is the youngest in the world, with 77% under 30 years of age (Census 2014). Our vision to empower youth in Uganda is to develop agricultural value chains that will support livelihoods, empower wealth creation, and spurn the development of new jobs and services which support from the avocado industry. Agriculture is the only sector of the economy with the realistic potential to employ 100% of all non-working youth in a very short time requiring both skilled and unskilled labor.

Youth Involvement at all Levels of Value Chain

Below is a description of the youth-driven value chain for direct participants:

  1. Smallholder growers. Youths who (a) have avocado trees or (b) plant avocado trees will have access to buyers and can generate more returns through expansion and management of their own trees.
  2. Development and distribution of seedlings to farmers. Individual entrepreneurs will be able to distribute seedlings to farmers and will be compensated on a per-tree basis, thereby incentivizing sales for entrepreneurial-minded youths.
  3. Planting services. Team of entrepreneurs can coordinate with landowners and input distributors to provide planting services or grow larger-scale operations on underutilized land.
  4. Farm maintenance. Pruners, pickers, and maintainers will ensure that the crop is well managed, thereby increasing the yields and decreasing the potential for damage and disease.
  5. Harvesting and grading/sorting. Harvesters and graders will ensure that avocados are routed to either oil or fresh market depending on the grade.
  6. Transportation and collection. Individuals with access to means of transportation will offer their services to transport avocados to collection points on the times dictated by regional management and collection point management.
  7. Collection point management. Each collection point will provide a job opportunity for a young manager.
  8. Regional management. Top students with local knowledge will be recruited to run all aspects of regional operations, from supply growth to sales.
  9. Avocado drying. Drying of avocados before oil production will provide thousands of jobs.
  10. Value addition and packaging. Avocado oil production facilities will be managed by young graduates with technical degrees and staffed by unemployed youths.
  11.  Sales. Domestic sales staff will generate revenues through sales to individuals for the B2C channel. For B2B, university graduates with business degrees will recruit and manage corporate clients.

Additionally, indirect participants will fuel value chain development and optimization:

  1. Training and education. Teams of trainers will educate growers and service providers on planting, handling, pruning, picking, grading, and transporting.
  2. Research and Development. A study by the Uganda Investment Authority in 2015(New Vision) showed that 400,000 people graduate from universities in Uganda each year, but only 150,000 get a job. For those in the science and research fields, the $100M-$500M market value of avocado exports will generate research opportunities to expand and improve the field over the next 10 years.
  3. New product development, marketing and branding. Youths will be at the forefront of developing new brands for both domestic consumption and export. These may include hair and skin products using avocado oil, or unique packaging to cater to importers and consumers in Europe, Middle East and Asia.


Team Details:

Gerald has a B.S. in business administration from California State University, Stanislaus. In Uganda, Gerald developed a successful coffee company, Gorilla Summit Coffee, which sources coffee from smallholder farmers. Gerald has extensive experience in Uganda’s agriculture sector and spearheaded the development of Uganda’s chia exports. He also serves as the African Regional Director for the Alternative Energy Advisory Group and was the Chief of Business Development at International Community Development Consultants in Kampala, Uganda.

Brendan has a B.S. in international business and management from Georgetown University and extensive experience building companies in emerging markets. Brendan was the Chief Operating Officer of a venture-backed technology startup in Indonesia, where he helped raise funds, build and manage a geographically-dispersed team and grow the business. Brendan has extensive private and public sector work experience in the developing world, including Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Uganda.


SHARE ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT YOU WOULD LIKE THIS PROJECT TO HAVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, AND ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER TO GET THERE.

WOVAKEDO seeks to create tens of thousands of jobs, put Uganda on the map as a global avocado exporter, and develop an industry centered on sustainable agriculture that will still be bearing fruit for years to come.

In order to get there, we must answer the following question: How do we overcome the strict lending requirements in East Africa to scale a capital-intensive business?

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work

HOW LONG HAVE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES BEEN WORKING ON THIS PILOT PROJECT TOGETHER?

  • Between 6 months and a year

WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING AMPLIFY'S PORTFOLIO OF INNOVATORS?

WOVAKEDO and Amplify share the same values and approach, and we would be honored to represent these values as part of the portfolio of innovators. Just as Amplify consists of mission-driven designers looking to have an impact on poverty, we are mission-driven entrepreneurs seeking to provide an opportunity for youths to both make extra money and to build their careers in the long term. We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn from Amplify's team and other innovators as we move forward!

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I am looking for farmers of Avocado who can supply me fresh Avocados for export. Inbox me via email at nileshkug@hotmail.com or contact me on my cell no. +256 772 524 800

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