Dr. Illeme Amegatcher has volunteered with PFS since 2013 and is currently Co-founder / Technical Manager at the General Mills Venture Studio. Since February this year, Illeme has been mentoring Henry Nartey, a Quality Assurance Officer with Praise Exports Services Limited (a Ghanaian company that processes and exports food such as edible palm oil, canned palm fruit concentrate to Europe and North America).
Henry’s goal through this mentorship is to learn and acquire more knowledge. He is fortunate to have been paired with Illeme, who has over 14 years of experience in the food industry, building a unique set of skills including strategy development and execution, technical problem solving, forming and leading teams, etc. While visiting family in Ghana, Illeme made time to connect with her mentee Henry and some of the PFS team at the office in Accra. It’s great when mentees and mentors have the rare opportunity to meet and connect in-person!
We are proud to share that Deborah Moi, a former PFS apprentice, has been accepted into the University of Central Florida to commence a fully-funded MSc & Ph.D in Chemistry.
Deborah chose to join the apprenticeship program because she saw PFS as the right organization to guide her with purpose, foster her ambitions and help her connect to her career pathway. It also helped that her professional aspirations matched that of PFS': increasing the competitiveness of the African food processing sector.
She was an apprentice in the Quality Assurance Department of PFS Client, Eden Tree, a leading fruit, vegetable and herb supplier in Ghana. While there, she gained experience in HACCP development and implementation, food quality and safety monitoring, internal and external auditing, SOPs and more. She also capitalized on her apprenticeship experience at Eden Tree to scale up her mother’s modest fried plantain chips business into a flourishing one.
Deborah’s goal is to become an R&D food technologist creating safe and nutritious products from indigenous Ghanaian produce, while enriching local communities economically. We wish her the best in her new journey!
“Our dream is to become The Hershey Company of East Africa,” said Fatima Riyami, founder of NatureRipe Kilimanjaro, a female owned business in Tanzania that produces sauces, jams, cashew nuts, peanut butter, honey, and cashew candy bars. After experiencing issues with the chocolate coating on their cashew snack bars, Fatima reached out to Partners in Food Solutions and its network of expert volunteers for support. “We were experiencing changing color and water separation in our chocolate sauces,” said Fatima. “We needed the assistance of PFS volunteers to help make a better chocolate cashew snack bar and improve its shelf life and texture,” she said.
Hershey’s Michael Nolt, a principal scientist with more than 35 years of experience, has helped NatureRipe Kilimanjaro improve their cashew snack bar product. Since the project started in February 2022, Michael and the project team have discussed the different types of ingredients to use to stabilize products, like the agent for chocolate which NatureRipe Kilimanjaro never knew while working with local Tanzanian institutes. Furthermore, Michael has provided guidelines around what ingredients to use for chocolate coating for cashew bars including cocoa, glucose, and fat.
“We’ve been experimenting with new products and formulations,” said Fatima. “The volunteer’s trainings are very important as we are bettering the production of our products.” By improving the chocolate coating on the cashew snack bar, Fatima hopes their sales will increase and also give them the opportunity to be one of the first local companies to produce a cashew bar coated with chocolate. “We are very grateful for the support from Hershey team members, PFS and TechnoServe, who tirelessly hold our hands and help us achieve our goals. Through the team’s support and cooperation, we’re seeing an immense change and are excited for our future. We hold our heads high thanks to our collaboration with experts from Hershey.”
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.
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."