Earlier this year, Partners in Food Solutions launched a mentorship program that pairs our volunteers with their professional counterparts at our African client companies. Dustin Stafford, head miller for Ardent Mills in Wichita, Kansas, was paired with Benjamin Singh, who has recently taken over leadership of Rafiki Millers, a family business in Kenya. Dustin's experience as a leader in milling is especially valuable because Benjamin, who has extensive business management experience, has never worked in the food sector.
Rafiki millers is a client in our Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods (SAPFF) program, which aims to ensure majority fortification compliance for food processors in some of the biggest economies in Africa. By targeting large millers such as Rafiki, there is the potential to reach the majority of consumers in those markets. Mentoring is an additional layer of support that PFS offers to our clients that is helping them improve their businesses.
"It is a very beneficial exchange since our roles are different but in particular for me, it is invaluable since Dustin is very knowledgeable regarding milling operations," Benjamin said. "Dustin’s ability to share his perspective based on many years of experience and improving the mill in the US over the years helps me understand and plan how we can implement changes here and the time frame I have to take into account for seeing results."
Dustin says he's also learned from the experience, "There are many similarities and also many differences in our operations. It's been interesting having conversations about these things, especially since our roles in our organizations are different - as business manager Benjamin has shared many thoughts and ideas about high-level business strategy, about challenges that they face, and given me quite a bit of perspective about running a business. Whereas as a head miller, I have shared ideas more from a technical milling perspective that have worked well in my experience. I've shared some tools that I use to track production metrics at my plant and discussed what we find value in measuring. On our last call, Benjamin said he is working on a wheat tracking tool that he'd like for me to look at and give feedback on when it is complete. I think it is fair to say that we both find it all very intriguing and we are both benefiting from the experience. Our discussions are usually pretty informal and organic. I am hoping that Benjamin is finding as much value in them as am I!"