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West African baby food entrepreneurs

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By Mercy Kelani

€570 million is spent on imports of infant food yearly, in Africa.

Africa imports of baby food, on an annual basis, is an estimated €570 million, which has been projected to surpass €1.1 billion by 2026. The local manufacturing of infant foods, according to the International Trade Centre, is really underexploited. However, there are a few West African entrepreneurs, who have been able to build and develop infant food businesses. One of these entrepreneurs is Adepeju Jaiyeoba, who is a Nigerian, and the founder of Colourful Giggles in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, there is a scarcity of affordable and nutritional baby food. As a result, many infants consume cheap staple crops that their family have immediate access to. Adepeju Jaiyeoba, CEO of Colourful Giggles, a Lagos-based baby food company, said that if the family grows maize, then it becomes the only food that the baby eats. If what they grow is soya beans, then the infant has to eat that only. Parents refuse to pay specific attention to nutritional value.

Majority of the baby foods in stores were imported.

The parents of these babies do not concentrate their attention on the mix of micro and macro nutrients that are significant for children below the age of five. Jaiyeoba, who used to be a lawyer, made a decision to establish a company that would implement Nigerian ingredients to make infant food. These foods are also expected to compete with international brands, which constitute 80 percent of the commercial market. Their products, priced from $2 to $5, target middle-class Nigerian mothers and millions of lower-income families.

Vera Osei-Bonsu, founder of Start Right Nutrition/Eat Smart Foods, Ghana, is another West African baby food entrepreneur. Vera Osei-Bonsu had said that upon having her first child, she observed that majority of the baby foods in stores were imported and lacked the healthy local ingredients she desired. As a result, she started making her infant foods with oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots, and coconut, which she shared on social media. Afterwards, she started making cereal powders that could be prepared in five minutes. Today, her companies produce nutritious, and locally-sourced baby and children’s food.

Baby Grubz aims to attain 20 tonnes per month by 2025.

Also, West Africa has a food entrepreneur from Senegal, Siny Samba, co-founder and CEO of Le Lionceau. She had previously worked at Blédina, the baby food division of French food multinational Danone, as an R&D engineer. Le Lionceau was launched in 2018 by Samba and Rémi Filastò — a graduate of agricultural engineering school. Currently, Le Lionceau offers many varieties of organic baby compotes, cereals, purees, and biscuits. It also has future plans of expansion in the wider West African region.

Furthermore, Nigerian-based baby food entrepreneur, Seun Sangoleye, is the founder of Baby Grubz. Her infant food company, Baby Grubz, offers nutritious and natural foods for babies, with traditional recipes. The company manufactures two tonnes of baby food every month with the use of rice, fish, sweet potatoes, beans and other indigenous products. The entrepreneur aims to attain 20 tonnes per month by 2025 and to become a multinational company, based in Africa. The company looks forward to massive growth opportunities through the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Financial institutions should finance businesses with potential.

Additionally, Cameroon-based Lemana, was established by Pascaline Nenda. She said that infant food makers in Africa have more chances than foreign producers because they are familiar with local eating habits, and their products are more affordable when compared to imported ones. However, she agreed that she has experienced difficulties, particularly in accessing credit. She stated that Lemana is in need of more sophisticated machinery to compete with imported labels and attend to market demands. She also asserted that is it necessary to urge financial institutions to finance businesses with potential in the industry.

Related Link

Baby grubz: Website

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