Go West PFS

February 18, 2015

This is a big week for Partners in Food Solutions (PFS).  After nearly eight years of working with promising food companies throughout Southern and Eastern Africa, we have finally made the jump to West Africa.  This expansion was made possible by The Hershey Company recently joining General MillsCargillDSM and Bühler as part of the PFS consortium.

Like many countries across Africa, Ghana is ripe with potential for improved food security and nutrition. Our work here focuses on the food processing sector, an under-leveraged asset that uniquely serves as both an engine of demand for the crops of small holder farmers and as the conduit for safer, healthier food for local populations.

As we launch our program in Ghana, we are excited to more intentionally partner with our friends at Root Capital, a world class non-profit lender that has been working in Ghana since 2009.  Root Capital provides working capital, CAPEX loans, and financial training to the same nascent food companies that we seek to assist.  Through our new partnership, these companies can benefit from the business and technical expertise of PFS volunteers AND from the financial investment and training that Root Capital provides.  To quote PFS co-founder John Mendesh, “Technical Assistance + Financing = Magic!”

We were here this week with Ken Powell, Chairman and CEO of General Mills, the founding corporate partner of PFS, and Willy Foote, Founder and CEO of Root Capital, to spend time with our local staff, Barbara Ghansah of Root Capital and newly-hired PFS Program Manager/Food Technologist Christian Dedzo. Together we visited our initial group of shared clients: Elssy Kess, Yedent, ANS Milling and Project Peanut Butter.

As we bounced across the backroads of Ghana in our rollicking bus, we were able to explore and discuss ways to both deepen our impact in this region and accelerate our growth. For example, we will be working towards expansion into neighboring Cote d’Ivore in the months to come.  I am reminded that it is these rich conversations and brainstorming sessions with leaders from different sectors, e.g., U.S. Businesses, Social Finance and Clients in Africa, that make PFS so unique and effective.  We are striving to be, as Willy Foote is fond of saying, “Pathological Collaborators.”  It is this collaboration that can lead to significant improvement for the whole food value chain in Africa, which serves as the economic heartbeat for so many across this continent.

This latest chapter for PFS is built upon the great work and support of our partners, donors and, most of all, the employee volunteers from our corporate partners who generously give of their time and unique expertise. Together we are improving food security, nutrition, and economic development across, now, the whole great continent of Africa.