Women writing on papers in office

Bühler Volunteers Provide Virtual Trainings to Improve Health and Food Safety in Nigeria


Fastizers Food and Confectionary is one of Nigeria’s fastest growing consumer goods companies and is known for their premium short-bread cookies, biscuits and other sweets. The company began by making sweets out of a home kitchen ten years ago and now distributes their products across the country to 26 different states and counting. Fastizers joined Partners in Food Solutions in 2020 and has since completed over nine projects including product development, equipment installation, and recently an occupational health and safety project. Bühler’s Quality, Health, and Safety Manager Alan Galloway worked with Fastizers to develop their health and safety manual.

Alan has five years of experience as a quality, health and safety manager at Bühler. “I really enjoy my role and love changing people’s perception of health and safety,” he said. “I believe by better educating people around the world on health and safety (H&S), we can all achieve something great.” Working with his Bühler colleagues Lindewe Segalwe and Sorana Ionita, Alan and the team were able to learn about what health and safety means in Nigeria. Alan said one of the most interesting parts of the project was discovering how another country handles their health and safety, and what laws and regulations they have in place. “Sometimes we had to ask some difficult questions,” Alan said, “but overall it helped us create a better health and safety environment at Fastizers.”

Balogun Ismail Sola, a quality control analyst and health and safety officer at Fastizers, worked with the Bühler volunteer team to develop a H&S manual for the company. “It was quite an interesting and fulfilling experience working with Alan, Lindiwe, and Sorana,” he said. Throughout the project, Alan and the team provided technical support, virtual trainings, and helped identify gaps in Fastizers H&S plans where they could improve. Using learnings from the project, Balogun was able to develop a new health and safety approach that the company will implement moving forward. “For example,” said Balogun, “we will start doing continuous risk assessments and policy statements in occupational, health and safety.” The H&S manual will help the Fastizers align on all aspects of safety across the company so they can better control hazards and risks. Balogun said his favorite part of the project was the virtual training that Alan facilitated himself because it was incredibly helpful and insightful. He will take those important lessons with him.

Moms holding children in home

Strengthening Business for More Nutritious, Affordable Food for Families in Kenya

With more than 35 percent of people living on less than two dollars a day, access to healthy, affordable and nutritious food remains a challenge. Food insecurity has been further exacerbated by climate change, COVID-19, and rapid population growth. Simba Foods, a flour milling company located in Nairobi, Kenya, wants to help transform the lives of low-income families by providing access to nutritious and affordable Kenyan staple foods. “Through a low-margin and efficient business model, we’re able to keep production costs low and provide affordable food to local families in our community,” said John Mwara, managing director of Simba Foods. “That is our core reason for existence.”

Working alongside John as a PFS volunteer Client Lead is Niels van Mossevelde, a downstream processing scientist at DSM. For more than a year, Niels has been supporting Simba’s mission to provide nutritious food by managing several PFS projects including one for HACCP implementation and milling line equipment optimization. “I joined PFS to broaden my view on the world, help others, and develop myself personally and professionally,” said Niels. “It’s rewarding to help develop project plans for the client that will make a difference in the local community, and a good opportunity to learn more about African culture and business practices.”

John said that working with PFS and their expert volunteers has enabled his company to achieve global standards in food processing, staff development, and management. “PFS has been extremely instrumental in allowing us to put in place HACCP standards and work toward ISO certification. We received peer review feedback that helped us identify gaps and make improvements.” Furthermore, the project uncovered the need for a long-term review of the entire business. “The foundation we are laying with PFS volunteer support will help our company move forward from a small miller to a medium-sized miller,” said John, “enabling us to increase our capacity and help feed up to 25,000 families a day.”

flour on table

Ugandan Maize Miller Becomes a Symbol for Food Safety and Quality


Located in Uganda, New Kakinga Millers is a maize-milling company that produces, packages and sells maize flour to the local community. The company focuses on the entire maize value chain by sourcing grain from over 8,000 smallholder farmers from across the region and selling maize bran (a by-product) for local animal feed. In an effort to improve their food safety and quality, the company reached out to Partners in Food Solutions for assistance with setting up a quality control lab that would allow them to test products on site and apply for the UNBS Q Mark Certification – a symbol of high quality products. New Kakinga Apprentice Devis Asiimwe said, “Having an established quality control lab at our factory will mean a lot to us. We will be able to store samples, conduct quality tests, house safety records and more.”

Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) assembled a team of food safety and quality professionals to help with the project. Joining the team was Bühler’s Thomas Ziolko, a product manager with experience in online sensor technology and food safety for grain milling applications. Over the past several months, Thomas and Allie Tobin, a quality specialist from Ardent Mills, have made great progress in establishing the quality control lab. The team has shared insights on how to use specific testing equipment, best practices for handling test samples, how to set adequate targets, and effective ways to communicate with remote teams. Devis said his experience working with Thomas and the other project volunteers has been a step forward for him and the company. “The volunteers have greatly uplifted the performance of this company in regards to good manufacturing practices, and quality and safety efficiencies,” he said.

The new quality improvements at New Kakinga Millers, including the lab set up and a recent GMP project supported by PFS volunteers Steve Berger and Sylvester Asiamah, have been recognized by the Ugandan government, and the company was granted a UNBS Q Mark Certification. “Being granted the UNBS Q Mark is a symbol of quality and demonstrates that our products meet the required safety standards,” said Devis. The new certification also increases customer confidence in the company and helps the company gain access to new markets making them more competitive.

In addition to being a rewarding experience for the client, the volunteer team also shared positive sentiments. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit two years ago, our company canceled most business travel out of Europe,” said Thomas. “I’ve missed having direct contact with our global customers and volunteering with PFS has been a great alternative for me.” After just a few team meetings, Thomas could already feel personal relationships developing. “Not only did I meet new people from around the world, but it also made me feel good to give back and provide my knowledge to a small company a thousand miles away who were able to benefit from it.”

Women holding silver bucket above head

It’s a Journey, a Challenge, and an Eye-Opening Experience


“I never thought I would collaborate with Kenyans and Tanzanians, those countries seemed so distant,” said Henrique Oliveira, a marketing director at Bühler. “Now my perspective of the African continent has changed completely.” Motivated by his interests in supporting small businesses in developing countries, Henrique wanted to use his skills for good and volunteer his time with PFS. In partnership with international development nonprofit TechnoServe and USAID, the development agency of the US government, PFS links highly skilled volunteers with entrepreneurial food companies in Africa in need of technical and business expertise. “I am from Brazil, a country that has experienced development disparities and have seen first-hand the importance of having access to knowledge and expertise,” said Henrique. Over the past year, Henrique has been volunteering as a project manager (client lead) with Profate Investments Limited, a family-owned dairy farm located in Tanzania, overseeing project teams, managing project timelines, and acting as a point of contact for the volunteer teams and client. “It’s a journey, a challenge, and an eye-opening experience,” he said.

Through his role as Client Lead, Henrique has developed a relationship with Profate Founder and Managing Director Feddy Tesha. “Henrique has been very helpful and professional in linking and coordinating volunteer expertise to help us,” she said. “Our partnership with PFS volunteers has been extremely helpful and we want to thank Henrique for a great job so far!”

Henrique’s favorite part of serving as a Client Lead is working with the people. Henrique also said that the Client Lead role helped him improve his project management skills and that they have carried over to his work at Bühler. “I’ve been able to more effectively translate technical advice to non-expert audiences, narrow down project steps and scope, and learned how to celebrate the wins and overcome project challenges.”

In collaboration with volunteers from Hershey and DSM, Henrique is supporting several projects with Profate including a brand review project and business plan project. “Through our group project work, I learned that Profate is educating Tanzanians about how to consume mozzarella cheese. I grew up eating mozzarella cheese and never thought someone in the world wouldn’t know how to eat it. Being a part of the PFS projects has forced me to expand my thinking and perspectives in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

In addition to serving as the volunteer Client Lead with Profate, Henrique has also served as the Client Lead for Simply Foods in Kenya. “Volunteering with PFS is an enriching experience that pushes you outside your comfort zone. Despite the challenges, developing relationships with other volunteers from around the world and helping the client improve their businesses makes it worth it!”

man standing next to crate smiling

Virtual Volunteerism is an Inclusive Solution to Strengthen Community and Company Resilience

There are an estimated one billion volunteers in the world. They play a crucial role in building resilient communities and helping those in need. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact in bringing that number down. For workplace volunteering programs, it’s no surprise that in-person volunteerism dropped as social distancing requirements and remote work began almost overnight. 

Virtual volunteerism is a great way to continue and even grow a culture of giving back, despite in-person limitations. Our organization, Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), is a consortium of seven world-class companies – General Mills, Cargill, DSM, Bühler, The Hershey Company, Ardent Mills, and J.M. Smucker -who have been supporting remote volunteering for 13 years,. Employees of our consortium partners share their expertise remotely with  entrepreneurial food companies in Africa to help strengthen their businesses and improve local food security. Over the years,  we’ve learned to overcome challenges around technology, how to engage a remote workforce, and more. In 2021, we supported 616 volunteers, accounting for over 17,000 volunteer hours. Each one of these volunteers represents a positive impact on a client, a community, a country and a continent. The passion for food security, commitment to help, and know-how that is shared is truly treasured by the clients we serve.

The Personal Case for Virtual Volunteering 

Take for example Natalia Faiden and Tomomi Fujimaru, food safety and quality professionals from General Mills. They stepped up and volunteered to share their knowledge with Forest Fruits, one of the leading producers of organic honey and beeswax in Lusaka, Zambia. Forest Fruits sources honey from over 7000 traditional beekeepers that utilize sustainable farming practices. 

Forest Fruits wanted to become HACCP certified (an international standard defining the requirements for effective control of food safety) but had challenges passing their previous certification audit due to lack of in-house expertise. Natalia and Tomomi volunteered their expertise and time with Forest Fruits to achieve certification. “Volunteering enables me to take advantage of the resources and knowledge at General Mills to support and develop the food industry where it is most needed, while getting to know other cultures and learning from them, “ said Natalia. “Without a doubt, my favorite part of this project was seeing Forest Fruit’s transformation and helping them receive the certification.” That certification will help the company grow, maintain high quality and safety standards, and expand their market reach.

The Business Case for Virtual Volunteering

Both employers and employees benefit from supporting a culture that facilitates volunteerism and meaningful connection. In addition to the high personal satisfaction that comes with volunteering, 68 percent of PFS volunteers surveyed said that they have gained new or improved skills through volunteering with us. Additional research also reinforces the importance of employee practices like volunteerism that “goes beyond company walls.” According to research these organizations are 2.2 times more likely to exceed financial targets, 2.8 times more likely to adapt well to change and more than three times more likely to retain employees and reduce absenteeism and health insurance claims.

The Secrets to a Successful Program

Keys to a successful knowledge-transfer volunteering program like ours includes a place where the specific expertise of your employees is needed and designing a program that has specifically designed projects that volunteers and clients can engage in virtually. At PFS we only work on projects that a client asks for and prioritizes. In effect, they “pull” the expertise from us, we don’t “push” them into prescribed generic solutions. Additionally, engagements should be clearly structured from the beginning using well-scoped project charters that include transparent and realistic timelines, objectives, and deliverables. We spend time setting expectations with our volunteers so they are prepared to address these unique challenges in resource constrained environments.      

We’re happy to share additional insights on volunteering, including our findings on implementing successful remote volunteering programs. Please see our resource: Building a Skills Based Remote Volunteering Program.


Partners in Food Solutions, a consortium of leading global food companies – General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM, Bühler, The Hershey Company, Ardent Mills and The J.M. Smucker Company – is working to strengthen food security, improve nutrition and increase economic development across Africa by expanding and increasing the competitiveness of the food processing sector. We link corporate volunteers from our world-class corporate partners, who share their expertise with promising entrepreneurs in eleven African countries.