Q+A with Volunteer Client Lead Tiffany Dean

Please share a little about yourself and your role at DSM.


My life has always centered around agriculture: I grew up on a livestock farm in Lancaster, PA, then went on to study animal science at Penn State. I moved throughout the Midwest with a biotech company specializing in seed genetics and crop protection products, and I am now based in Europe with DSM. At dsm-firmenich, I provide direction on the global strategy of our Performance Solutions business, clarifying where we want to be as a feed additive company and how we plan to get there.

What was your main motivation for volunteering with PFS?


I have always been passionate about global food security around the world. After learning about PFS — specifically its work helping food companies in Africa provide communities with safe, highquality food — it became clear that this was an organization I wanted to partner with.

Describe your volunteer experience as a Client Lead.


I am a Client Lead for a company called NatureRipe Kilimanjaro Ltd in Tanzania. As a Client Lead, I am currently supporting the company by overseeing two projects: fruit sauces product improvement project and a cashew snack bar modification project. In my role, I make sure we understand how to best utilize everyone’s knowledge, experience, and insights, and are able to implement them to solve the client’s needs.

What is your favorite part of volunteering?


Volunteering is an incredible way to connect across various industries and functions for a common goal – helping your client succeed. I am amazed at the resourcefulness of both the client and the volunteer teams, and their ability to solve any problems that arise by utilizing industry contacts where needed to find solutions.

What skills have you honed or developed while volunteering with PFS?


I have improved my cross-cultural communication skills. With the majority of our team based outside of the US, I’ve developed the ability to navigate differences in cultural norms and expectations as well as different languages. This has proved beneficial to my everyday life, being newly integrated into a different culture and language in Austria, and with the effective communication needed across our global business.

What would you say to someone who is interested in volunteering, but hesitant to start?


There is no greater way to find fulfillment and enrichment from your knowledge base than to apply it to organizations that are building a better tomorrow. In addition, the PFS team provides a turnkey approach to volunteering, so there is no reason to be intimidated by the process or time management aspects of the partnership.

Woman in Tanzania with flour bag

Devex: Why food funding can't just focus on farming


Devex: Why food funding can't just focus on farming

We're starting to see much more attention focused on developing the middle of the food value chain in Africa, the food processors. Reporter Sophie Edwards interviewed PFS CEO Jeff Dykstra for this article exploring just that. As Jeff often says, "A farmer without a market is just a gardener."


Ebun visits Hershey Headquarters

Nigerian Entrepreneur Visits Hershey Headquarters and Meets Mentor in Person


Nigerian Entrepreneur Visits Hershey Headquarters and Meets Mentor in Person


Ebun Feludu has been entrepreneur from her early days in college when she was designing and sewing clothes for her peers. She also started a marketing firm at one point, but the desire to build not just a business but a legacy lead to the birth of the JAM Coconut Company in 2016. Today, Ebun has a staff or 31 and her company produces coconut oil and other coconut products.

About a year ago, Ebun joined the PFS program through a serendipitous encounter with our program manager in Nigeria, Toju Ukubeyinje. They got to work on several projects, including an ‘Ask-an-Expert’ to evaluate equipment for coconut ball production. Additionally, PFS offered Ebun a spot in our leader-to-leader mentorship program.

Ebun was matched with Dan Mohnshine, Hershey’s vice president of marketing for US confection, grocery, and protein snacks. She was connected with Dan who was thinking about a way to use his expertise beyond his everyday work. Together they partnered on what has become a journey of learning and growth for both of them.

“While I’m incredibly busy with my day job, I’ve found working with Ebun to be very rewarding,” said Dan. “She’s a very spirited entrepreneur and I love hearing when she has a big ‘win’ for her business.”

In February, an opportunity arose for Ebun to travel to the U.S., and Dan graciously agreed to host her at The Hershey Company headquarters. The three days were incredibly rich for her, filled with meetings with scientists, marketing specialists, branding experts, and business development experts from across The Hershey Company. These specialized teams helped Ebun consider new and different ways to grow her business, develop her product and better position herself on the market. Another major highlight was having endless Icebreakers to chew on, a mint that Ebun is particularly fond of which is made by Hershey.

The distance between the US and Africa makes this type of immersive experience rare, but is one that can help clients reimagine the possibilities for their business, reignite that entrepreneurial spirt within them, and also provide practical advice.

Planning for a Bright Future with a Facility Upgrade

Planning for a Bright Future with a Facility Upgrade


Following Australia and South Africa, Kenya is the third-largest producer of macadamia nuts in the world. Known for being rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, macadamia nuts are widely popular in international markets. Sagana Nuts has been processing macadamia nuts in Kenya since 2013 and has recently begun expanding their operations to a new facility to increase process automation. Supporting them in establishing their new facility is William Hajek, an installation supervisor at Bühler.

“The main part of my job is to receive flour milling roller mills from the Bühler manufacturing facility in Switzerland and supervise the mechanical contractors to install the machinery correctly,” said William. ” At this point in my career, I have learned a lot about streamlining the process of efficiently moving large quantities of bulk food from storage bins to the actual equipment that cuts and/or mixes food before it is packaged. It wasn’t long after I heard about PFS and signed up to volunteer that I was placed on the Sagana Nuts plant layout and process flow documentation project.”

Sagana Nuts macadamia nut facility in Kenya.
Sagana Nuts macadamia nut facility in Kenya.

One of the main challenges with the Sagana Nuts project was determining the best solution based on the budget available for their material handling issues. “We started out suggesting an expensive solution to load the storage silos and as the process continued through our bi-weekly Microsoft Teams meetings, we were able to find a workable solution that was affordable,” said William. “It was really fun to work with a group of professionals from all over the world. Everybody had an equal share in creating the solution for Sagana Nuts.”

“The PFS project team was essential to our success,” said Sagana Nuts Factory Manager Dickson Wachira. “We have a vision of being a globally recognized food processing company and it is important to us to learn from those ahead of us in the field. The team provided crucial reports relevant to the project and also gave us guidance in not just the details of the project but more than we expected: they gave us a platform to think deeply about process and facility improvements.”

Since the project closed in December 2022, the client is using the facility diagram provided by the volunteer team to map out the new facility’s layout. The client is also preparing for and setting up the chute for nut delivery into the dryers for a more efficient and automated process.


Marketing Strategy Helps Client Obtain Essential Funding

Marketing Strategy Helps Client Obtain Essential Funding

Kwithu Kitchen is a company with a social mission. Located in Malawi, Kwithu Kitchen is a 100% women-owned cooperative to provide improved livelihoods to rural women. The company started by processing tomatoes including tomato puree and chopped tomatoes, and recently received approval from the Malawi Bureau of Standards to sell tomato sauce and tomato jam. Furthermore, in a very short period of time, the company has quickly become one of the country’s largest honey processors and suppliers. Despite the early adoption of Kwithu Kitchen products in the community, the company still struggles to reach profitability.

“Kwithu Kitchen has enormous potential,” said John Keys, business advisor for Kwithu Kitchen. “PFS’s broad and extensive network of volunteers in a range of disciplines was very attractive to us. With one partner, we could get help help in a variety of areas.” To help Kwithu Kitchen gain a better understanding of their market, guide production, and develop marketing strategies to improve business growth, DSM’s Angela Bowman and Swayam Kher signed up to support a honey and tomato research project.

“I have been a senior analyst for business insights within DNP at DSM for the last seven years and am based out of India,” said Swayam. “I joined PFS because I wanted to share my learnings and knowledge with African clients who can improve food security, build better products, and serve customers with a good purpose.” Together, Swayam and Angela suggested a framework and established milestones for the project so the client could focus their efforts on developing key business tools such as a website, sell sheets and the Kwithu Kitchen “story.”

“Kwithu Kitchen has definitely seen the benefits of our marketing strategy project,” said John. “The volunteer’s advice was critical as we updated our website, produced more engaging collateral material, and thought through our retail supermarket marketing and advertising strategies and plans. What we appreciated most about Angela and Swayam is that they were able to take their experiences working with huge multinational corporations and distill their personal and company’s best practices to a much smaller company like Kwithu Kitchen.”

Angela, who is a Regional Key Account Manager in the Early Life Nutrition Segment at DSM, said it was rewarding to see the enthusiasm of the Kwithu Kitchen staff and the progress they were making in selling their products. “It can be easy to get caught up in our daily personal and professional lives,” said Angela. “My experience with PFS was a refreshing reminder that there is a larger world out there with opportunities to connect with others for the greater good.”

In part, because of Angela and Swayam’s support on the marketing research and strategy project, Kwithu Kitchen was able to update their marketing plans and financial forecasting methods, which are the basis for their updated five-year sales and cash-flow plan. This plan helped the company secure a concessional loan for approximately $90,000 at a 10% interest rate (commercial interest rates in Malawi often exceed 25%), so securing this subsidized loan is critical in helping Kwithu Kitchen secure essential capital requirements.

“We want to be a major financial and economic force in Malawi that can help increase the incomes of more than a thousand beekeepers and smallholder farmers and at the same time become a socially responsible and profitable company,” said John. “We are extremely grateful to PFS and its network of volunteers. Please keep an eye on us – you will be proud of where we end up!”