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Creating Global Friendships While Strengthening Professional Skills

 

PFS: What was your main motivation for joining the PFS mentorship program?

AM: In my sales career I have learned a ton about relationship building and customer management. I wanted to find a way to use those skills to make a direct and positive impact outside of the US. The goal of empowering people to create sustainable economic growth really stuck out to me.

PFS: What has been your favorite part of the mentorship?

AM: My favorite part of my mentorship with Gordon has been getting to know him and hearing his perspective on the world. I truly feel like I have gotten more out of the relationship than he has. From a business perspective, I really enjoyed working with Gordon to think through the way he approaches his client relationships. Being a results oriented salesperson, it feels good to hear that Gordon was able to break through with his clients by applying a new tactic we talked about.

PFS: Have you learned anything new through your mentorship?

AM: I personally feel the mentorship program has given me the opportunity to build and develop my coaching muscles in a way I wouldn’t have been able to in my current role. This experience has helped me think through how I approach situations with my employees and business partners.

PFS: What would you say to someone who is interested in mentoring, but hesitant to start?

AM: I came into the program with some doubt that I could truly make an impact. Wow, was I wrong! Everyone at PFS is very understanding that volunteering isn’t your primary job and is incredibly appreciative of anything you can give. I am so grateful that this opportunity has truly given me a new friend and I hope to travel to Ghana one day and meet Gordon in person.

 

Kids smiling

Medallion Labs Play Key Role in Effective Fortification Efforts

 

According to the World Health Organization, the number of malnourished individuals in Africa increased from 181 million in 2010 to 222 million in 2016. Undernutrition continues to affect a large portion of the population, especially children. In order to improve nutrition, the Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Food (SAPFF) program, a partnership between international development nonprofit TechnoServe, Partners in Food Solutions, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides customized technical assistance to companies with currently low food fortification compliance levels.

Through PFS, General Mill’s Medallion Labs has provided invaluable support and service to the SAPFF program. In addition to Medallion Labs staff serving clients in a volunteer capacity at times, a business relationship has also developed.“The total amount of revenue Medallion Labs has brought in from PFS clients and program partners since Oct. 2018 is $156,933“ according to PFS Director of Service Innovation and Impact Magdalene Mbaga. “Medallions Labs has demonstrated flexibility and superb customer service to our larger-scale milling and oil processing clients in Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria,” she said.

Over the past four years of the program, market-level fortification compliance levels have improved from an average of 54% compliance to 77%. SAPFF now engages with more than 75 companies to assure the quality of 164 different staple food products.

SAPFF intend to continue working with Medallion Labs over the coming year as they design the next stage of the program.

Bag of flour spilled on table

Improving Food Safety by Bridging Knowledge Gaps

 

Graceco Foods Limited, a food processing and manufacturing company in Nigeria, was experiencing some shelf-life challenges when they noticed mold growing on their cupcakes within four weeks of production. Graceco quickly realized they needed to strengthen their industrial production knowledge to ensure that gaps in their technical knowledge were reduced significantly. To help bridge these gaps, PFS connected Graceco with General Mills QRO Engineer Linda Olson.

Adedayo Oshinnaiye, Graceco’s executive director of operations and supply chain, said working with PFS has been a game changer. “We’ve been able to identify the root cause of our shelf-life issues and have achieved better results since then,” he said. As the project nears completion, Graceco has already begun implementing volunteer recommendations such as using more advanced cleaning procedures and ensuring the cupcakes are stored at adequate temperatures throughout production. “The ability to share knowledge and learn from volunteers like Linda as well as the PFS program managers has been the best part about this program.”

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FY2021 Annual Report

 

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Simple Questions Lead to Elegant Solutions

 

Sometimes it’s the simple questions that reveal the most important answers. That’s what Ardent Mills’ Bill Boyden discovered while working with Tomato Jos, a tomato processing company in Kangimi, Nigeria. The company was formed to process locally grown tomatoes - in season for only a short time - into paste so that the tomato harvest bounty can be preserved.

Tomato Jos was in the process of building a new warehouse to help expand their business and optimize the space for both raw materials and finished goods. At the same time, a staffing and process optimization project began for their expected growth. That is where Bill became involved. “I literally had no previous knowledge of tomato processing at all. So, Tomato Jos may have wondered why I was asking a lot of simple questions.” he said. “This project helped me to understand the dynamics of the supply chain – the seasonality of the farming activities, limited time from harvest to processing due to no storage, plant operations only scheduled for a few weeks based on their year-one business targeted sales – and the difficulty of creating an efficient staffing plan with all these considerations.”

It was these simple questions that helped lead them to a very customized three-phase staffing plan that would allow them to develop and upskill their staff at the same time that their business was shifting from raw materials to finished product production. “A staffing plan was developed which included several key benefits: team members from the adjacent farming operation could support raw material unloading and maintenance resource needs, inexperienced team members assigned to entry level roles would be provided with learning and development opportunities that would allow them to grow and expand their responsibilities for next phase of roles as the plant progressed. This changes provided a more optimal structure for plant supervision, engineering and laboratory functions,” said Bill.

Ironically, Tomato Jos noted that the real life value of appropriate staffing and systems is evident in how PFS itself works. “Our favorite thing about working with PFS has to be how committed the team is to getting us high-quality volunteers,” said Processing Manager Francis Bulus. “It’s evident in how, at virtually every point, the team communicates its volunteer recruitment plans, philosophy, and status to us, as well as how clearly they often map out our expectations and how these have to align with theirs.”

Tomato Jos management reports that recruitment is currently underway for the second stage of their operations, exactly in accordance with their elegant plan.