PFS is excited to welcome Faith Ngila and Chenge Wandabwa to our team as Field Program Associates based in Nairobi. They will be working to support volunteers and clients with operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Faith has a rich background in international development, most recently with Kenya Community Development Fund. She is a published author and is currently working on her masters degree. Chenge spent the past five years working for One Acre Fund, a highly-regarded organization supporting smallholder farmers in East Africa. He previously worked with the Kenya Red Cross and is also currently working on his masters degree.
PFS staff from headquarters, David Dayhoff, Amanda Traaseth and Magdalene Mbaga, along with Yvonne Akorfa Hormenoo, Field Program Associate in Ghana, gathered in Nairobi for intensive training in August. As a fun aside, they discussed getting a PFS "uniform" for the team. With a tradition of colorful fabrics and quick-turn around hand-stitched clothing common across Africa, the team had their "uniforms" ready to wear in three days!
At our 10 year anniversary celebration last year we announced two new annual awards for PFS staff and volunteers to honor and perpetuate the legacy of two of our founders.
The John Mendesh Award will go the employee or volunteer that most exhibits the following traits: Boundless enthusiasm/results delivered with a smile. Clear thinking that leads to strong results. Creative problem solving.
The Peter Erickson Award will go to the employee or volunteer who most demonstrates the following traits: Tenacity and grit. Wisdom. Humility.
We are pleased to announce the first ever winners of these two awards:
Please join me in congratulating these outstanding individuals for their great work and service on behalf of the PFS mission.
On Friday, engineering students from the University of St. Thomas presented their senior projects that were developed with industry and nonprofits to engineer special prototype solutions to real-world problems. This year, five students worked with PFS volunteer Jesse Theis, who works for Bühler, PFS partner TechnoServe with support from USAID, and the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to address a challenge that local miller Sozi Integrity faced.
Sozi Integrity is a milling company located in Tanzania. They mill maize into flour, and also sun dry and sell the separated bran to animal feeds processors. During the rainy season –September to May - the environment is not conducive to sun drying, and therefore Sozi loses about $833 worth of maize bran daily. The team worked on designing a scalable dryer that would ensure the dried bran revenue stream year-round, and reduce the food waste. The result of this project will be a dryer design and we’ve recently completed the first test run of a continuous rotary dryer which has been designed and developed over the last 8 months.
One of the biggest takeaways for the students was the chance to actually construct their design. Jesse Theis says he enjoyed watching them problem solve and learn. “Working directly with the students at St. Thomas was wonderful. They’re intelligent, resourceful and effective young entrepreneurs,” he said.
Now that the PFS and St. Thomas team are done with their part, the design and testing data will be passed on to the student engineering team at the University of Dar es Salaam for continued work. It will then be fabricated there and replicated for many companies like Sozi across Tanzania. Preliminary results of the design are showing that companies could recoup the cost of the new dryer in just two months, which would represent a significant savings for them over the life of the machine.
This USAID-funded project was implemented by TechnoServe in partnership with PFS and made possible by the generous support of the American People.
The AINFP program has piloted a mentorship program between TechnoServe staff (including their Deputy and Chief of Party) and standout PFS volunteers who are later in their careers. Twelve TechnoServe staff were matched and introduced. Their mentorship will run for one year, and the focus is on professional development for both parties. Peter Erickson, PFS board chair, is serving as a mentor for Nirav Patel, owner of Simply Foods, a PFS client company in Kenya.
We're also trying out another new idea with our long-time client COMACO in Zambia. John Mendesh and myself have spearheaded a “sister plant” relationship between COMACO’s largest plant in Chipata and General Mills’s largest plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Four high-level managers at both plants have been paired according to their technical areas of expertise in mentoring relationship to focus on areas of continuous improvement for COMACO as the company implements its first strategic eight-quarter plan.
Eighteen executives from 15 food processors gathered with Partners in Food Solutions on March 29th to discuss data-driven decision-making. Topics included discussion of four analytic dashboards developed in conjunction with Open Capital Advisors over the last several months. The dashboards covered common performance indicators in the areas of marketing, finance, operations and social impact. Open Capital worked with each business to identify their top analytical need and presented each client with an analysis based on their data. Some surprising discoveries were made. For example, many clients realized they weren’t fully allocating costs across some product lines, distorting profitability. FairRate Millers discovered that although their 2kg bags moved more rapidly off the shelves, their larger profit margin was with the 1 kg packaging. When asked if this exercise was helpful, Ken Nyaga CEO of FairRate Millers exclaimed, “The answer is not only yes; it’s yes! Yes! Yes!”