Spring 2021

A virtuous cycle

inWest Africa to the customer in Europe and the U.S.,” says Sylvain Cattin, Koster Keunen’s General Manager for West Africa. “We want to bring the right price to ensure a decent life for the farmer.” Like many of the Trade Hub’s partnerships, Koster Keunen also has a gender component, aiming to bring more women into its beeswax and honey supply line. Gender is an important theme, as the Trade Hub directly supports the Women’s Global De- velopment and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), a U.S. government effort to advance women’s economic empowerment, and works with firms to develop gender inclusion strategies. Ethical Apparel Africa, whose grant was pos- sible throughW-GDP funds, plans to hire 70

The Trade Hub’s co-investment and the DFC’s guarantee will allow Cordaid to expand its portfolio to capital-starved areas in Burkina Faso and Guinea. “Fragility in the Sahel is a big issue and a big challenge… and we don’t pretend that our in- vestments will be a silver bullet,” says Pennell. “But we look for investment opportunities that can at least help address some of these specific challenges that arise due to demographic chal- lenges and climate change challenges.” The Trade Hub’s blended finance models, like the agreement with the DFC and Cordaid, will reduce the risk to investment for 44 firms in its current grant pipeline. Reducing risk for investors to invest in companies like EAA and Macrowaste makes inclusive growth possible.

Koster Keunen’s bee boxes are made by local carpenters.

Koster Keunen will supply safety equipment and training for new bee farmers.

“So, there’s a real opportunity in Ghana to create amodel for gender that’s truly equitable.” Feeding a growing population Feed the Future, the U.S.’s program to tackle global hunger, addresses development chal- lenges in food security in Africa. Feed the Future’s objectives coincide with one of the Trade Hub’s core goals: To increase food secu- rity by investing in the agricultural sector. Using Feed the Future funds from USAID Nigeria, the Trade Hub provided a $1.5 million grant to Nigerian company WACOT Rice Ltd., which has a mill in Kebbi, a designated prior- ity state for agricultural production. WACOT co-invested $8.6 million. Through this grant, the company will train and onboard 5,000 new rice farmers in its Argungu Outgrower Expansion Project. Nigeria consumes more than 7 million tons of rice per year. In what became known as the “Rice Revolution,” Nigeria shifted away from dependence on Asian rice imports to producing most of its rice needs in local paddies. But local demand is far frommet. In Kebbi state, WACOT reports that farmers lose signif- icant amounts of rice before reaching the mill each season due to the lack of access to roads, quality inputs and knowledge of proper grow- ing methods. The Argungu project will address this unnecessary loss and increase rice yields by giving farmers proper tools and training. “Food security is key because of the very serious poverty in these communities,” says Habiba Suleiman, Business Development Manager at WACOT, which is a subsidiary of Tropical General Investments Group. “This cy- cle continues repeating itself. Smallholders are usually the owners of half a hectare of land they

Through their innovative services, Macrowaste is

addressing what many considered “an impossible problem” in Mali.

Bringing big picture policy to the local level

The Trade Hub also represents a way for firms to access an even larger ecosystem of high-level partners and international and regional initia- tives, bridging business and development goals. For example, with resources fromProsper Africa, the U.S.’s whole-of-government initiative to increase trade between the continents, the Trade Hub co-invested $1.7million with Koster Keunen, a natural wax company. The company plans to equipmore than 11,200 beekeepers in multiple countries acrossWest Africa to create a sustainable supply of wax products tomarkets in Europe and the United States. “We want… to show that it’s possible to have very strong partnerships, from the beekeeper

Keeping trash properly contained has health benefits.

percent women and bring training programs to move their female employees into manage- ment positions in the newmodel factory. “It’s really common for a garment factory to bemostly women in terms of people sitting on sewingmachines… but to be almost all male in terms of themanagement tiers,” says Schackert.

Photos courtesy of Koster Keunen (top right); Macrowaste (left)

18 | Think Creative | Spring 2021

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