How these young African businesspeople boost profits through value addition

It is not long now until the Anzisha Prize – Africa’s premier award for its youngest entrepreneurs – announces its finalists for 2015. A team of reviewers have made their way through over 500 applications, and are now conducting site visits in 11 African countries to ensure the legitimacy of semi-finalists and their ventures.

South African Karidas Tshintsholo (20) is the co-founder of Push Ismokol Clothing, a textile company that makes and sells clothes such as T-shirts, caps, trousers and sweaters under its own brand.
South African Karidas Tshintsholo (20) is the co-founder of Push Ismokol Clothing, a textile company that makes and sells clothes such as T-shirts, caps, trousers and sweaters under its own brand.

Over the past few weeks, the Prize has been highlighting some of the applicants operating within particular countries and industry sectors. This week it has decided to share some of the young entrepreneurs who are gaining a greater share of the value chain through manufacturing and processing activities.

While Africa has a wealth of natural resources, very little value is added to its raw materials on the continent. Typically, these resources are exported elsewhere, manufactured into finished products, and then sold back to African countries.

“The result is that African economies do not reap the full value of their resources,” says Grace Kalisha, senior programmes manager at the African Leadership Academy.

“There is a need to bring our resources up the value chain locally, and it is exciting to see some young entrepreneurs increasing their profits through processing and manufacturing activities.”

Here are five Africans operating within the manufacturing and processing space.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Finalists for the Anzisha Prize have not been announced. The entrepreneurs profiled below have been selected randomly, and are not necessarily winners.  

Running a clothing brand in South Africa
South African Karidas Tshintsholo grew up in a township east of Pretoria, but did not let his underprivileged upbringing keep him from making something of himself. He embraced his schooling and extramural activities such as debating, and from a young age he has launched a number of entrepreneurial initiatives and youth empowerment programmes in his community. This, along with his sheer determination, obtained him the Allan Gray Fellowship and access to the University of Cape Town where he is currently studying Actuarial Science.

Today, the 20-year-old is the co-founder of Push Ismokol Clothing, a textile company that makes and sells clothes such as T-shirts, caps, trousers and sweaters under its own brand. The business was launched in 2011, and its garments have since been showcased on popular soapie Muvhango and endorsed by a number of well-known South African personalities.

Tshintsholo is also the co-founder of Student Investor, a division of the MoneyTree Group which aims to encourage a culture of saving – and therefore financial freedom – among youth through specifically designed financial products and services.

Visit Push Ismokol Clothing on Facebook.

Quality furniture in Uganda
Ugandan Solomon Kibunda (19) has used his love for carpentry to co-found Mengo Furniture Producers in Kampala, which constructs quality furniture using locally-sourced timber. He started the company in 2013, and today it produces everything from sofas and dining sets to kitchen fittings and office furniture. The company also offers furniture repairs and has clients such as hotels, restaurants, and schools. The business employs six people.

Kibunda also hopes to help tackle Uganda’s high youth unemployment rate by teaching carpentry skills to young people so they can start their own businesses, improve their standard of living and employ others.

Furthermore, since timber is used as a raw material, Kibunda has organised community outreach programmes and tree-planting initiatives to encourage afforestation.

“In addition I have encouraged fellow carpenters to grow trees, in a bid to conserve the environment, so the youths we are skilling with carpentry skills will be able to get timber to use as their raw material in future.”

Antibacterial soap from moringa in Cameroon
Cameroonian George Teke (20) is one of the co-founders of the Emerald Group, which uses the native moringa plant to create health products such as tea that helps with diabetes. Teke’s particular focus is on the production of the Emerald Moringa Soap, which has exfoliating, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

The medicinal soap can be used to treat common skin infections caused by bacteria such as E. Coli, Staphylococci and Salmonella. The products are produced in the south-west region of Cameroon, but Teke and his team hope to expand their offering to other countries on the continent.

“Nowadays many people in Cameroon, and Africa at large, die because of skin diseases. So the production of this soap would help in solving this problem at a lower cost,” he explains.

Palm oil production in Nigeria
Nigerian Ndilemeni Kenechukwu (22) founded Kenny Palms Nigeria in 2013. The company is involved in the production, packaging and sale of palm oil and raw palm kernel oil, as well as other by-products that can be used for both domestic and industrial purposes. The business currently employs 12 people.

“There is increasing demand for hygienic and low-cholesterol, edible palm oil due to the upsurge of heart related ailments, disease prevention awareness, and the most recent Ebola outbreak,” explains Kenechukwu.

His goal is to become Africa’s leading “indigenous producer of palm oil and its associated fats” by 2035 and is re-investing a portion of profits into scaling up production.

Processing garri from cassava in Nigeria
Kayode Yussuf (21) runs Greenville Organic Foods in Nigeria’s Lagos state. The business was launched at the end of 2014 and produces garri, a popular West African food made from cassava. The company already makes around US$600 a month, employs two others and provides its cassava farmers with a stable income.

According to Yussuf, cassava is highly perishable and farmers must sell within two weeks of harvesting. “So our coming on board gives some farmers the assurance that there is a market for their product.”

Due to a lack of start-up funds, the company currently outsources production and packaging, and has to monitor quality to ensure it meets standards. However, Yussuf says the aim is to raise enough funds to set up the business’s own production plant.

“It will cut our production cost, we will [be able to] employ more people, make higher profits and, best of all, we will be in direct control of the quality of our products.”