PFS Hires Two New Program Associates in Kenya

PFS field staff
Partners in Food Solutions staff in Kenya. Left to right, David Dayhoff, Faith Ngila, Amanda Traaseth, Yvonne Akorfa Hormenoo, Magdalene Mbaga and Chenge Arnold Wandabwa.

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! 

PFS Founders Service Award Recipients Announced

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:

The John Mendesh Awards goes to the following two people…  
Christian Dedzo PFS Sr. Program Manager in Ghana.  Christian was our first direct field staff hire and has excelled in every way.  
"Christian has a been a trailblazer in many aspects and has delivered with boundless enthusiasm and always with a smile. He tops this with clear thinking and creative problem solving. I have learned a lot from what Christian has shared with me and the team.”
"Christian leads by example and has pioneered much of the way we approach our field work.”
Katarina Slettengren, Head of Analytical, Bühler is always willing to help - she has served on multiple projects at one time in the past year, and has always been willing to share analytical laboratory roles with her colleagues due to the high demand. 
"Katarina has served on a variety of project - from aflatoxin to shelf life - she is always willing to learn and grow where the project requires. She and Simon from TNS Ethiopia are paired as mentor and mentee and have so far struck up a really productive relationship after meeting in person in Utzwil, sharing a passion for analytical food science."
The Peter Erickson Awards goes to the following two people…
Dan Winderl, General Mills Grain Technology Engineer.  Dan has served on multiple PFS projects over the years quietly and humbly serving many clients and fellow volunteers with excellence.
"Dan's humility, tenacity and wisdom are matched by his sense of urgency, expertise and unflappable commitment.  In the last six months alone, he has stepped up to guide University of St Thomas engineering students on a technical study of maize bran drying for Tanzania and he's now leading a group of GMI scientists on a study to identify the cause of a product defect impacting the fortification of maize flour in Kenya. He does this with no limelight but is compelled by his choice to make a difference. People follow him because he picks up the baton every time he senses the need.”
"Dan embodies everything that we LOVE to see when volunteer subject matter expertise combines with leadership and client value.”
Steve Berger, General Mills Plant Technical Manager. Steve has incredible knowledge about milling and food production. Though he is soft spoken, his insights are always relevant, thoughtful, and valuable. 
"Steve has served in many PFS capacities over the years, including new roles like leading the knowledge management for fortification equipment installation in the SAFE program, and stewarding the material by presenting at field staff visits, and training SAPFF Client Leads on how to access and utilize the materials. During these engagements he served, and continues to serve, as a Client Lead, using his significant leadership capabilities to ensure projects are delivered on time, with high quality results."

Please join me in congratulating these outstanding individuals for their great work and service on behalf of the PFS mission.  

Engineering students at St. Thomas

Engineering Students from US University Collaborate with Tanzanian Miller

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. 

holding hands

A New Form of Support Across Programs: Mentorships

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.

CEO's at Forum in Nairobi

PFS Hosts Successful CEO Forum in Nairobi

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!” 

General Mills
General Mills, the founding member of Partners in Food Solutions, is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries and headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 150,000 people in 70 countries.
Royal DSM is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. By connecting its unique competences in Life Sciences and Materials Sciences DSM is driving economic prosperity, environmental progress and social advances to create sustainable value for all stakeholders.
Bühler is a global leader in the field of process engineering, in particular production technologies and services for producing foods and manufacturing advanced materials. Bühler operates in over 140 countries and has a over 10,000 employees worldwide.
The Hershey Company, headquartered in Hershey, PA, is a global confectionery leader known for bringing goodness to the world through its chocolate, sweets, mints and other great-tasting snacks.
Ardent Mills
Ardent Mills is dedicated to helping our customers innovate and grow, with the industry’s broadest range of flours, mixes, blends and specialty products.