“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!”