The national dish of Nigeria, Jollof Rice, is a spicy staple food served around the country and gets its signature bright red color from tomatoes. The country is now the second largest producer of fresh tomatoes in Africa. Yet despite that, it is also one of the world’s largest importers of tomato paste. In an effort to strengthen domestic markets for tomato growers, Tomato Jos, a tomato farm based in northern Nigeria, wanted to expand their operations and start making their own tomato paste. Given that this was uncharted territory for the company and their team, they looked to Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) for support in the areas of warehouse space design, staffing, process optimization, and packaging design.
DSM’s Florian Jardin took on the project manager “Client Lead” role for all of these projects with Tomato Jos. “I was drawn to helping them because of the social impact I could directly have,” said Florian. “I want to use my strengths to support start-ups with a great purpose and PFS let me do that with Tomato Jos this past year.” Florian, a global category manager at DSM, used his skills and expertise to not only make sure projects moved along in a timely manner, he also shared business and distribution strategy recommendations with the client CEO. “Initially I was a bit afraid to fail and let the client down, but after the first call I had a great feeling because I knew the volunteer team and I could bring real value to the client and help them reach their goals.”
Within weeks the volunteer project team was able to develop an efficient warehouse design plan that addressed gaps in Tomato Jos’ storage systems, which could now lead to significant cost savings. Volunteers were also able to recreate packaging design files that suited the client’s needs.
“Our experience working with PFS has been very positive,” said Francis Bulus, processing project manager for Tomato Jos. “Considering the fact that our core business objectives for the year revolve around setting up the factory and running it efficiently, the ongoing support from the PFS team, which has helped push a lot of that forward, has been invaluable. It’s to the point that it’s had a ripple effect on the company as a whole because a lot of the decisions constructed by the support from the team translated into smart business decisions across other business units.”