PRETORIA–The U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has partnered with four Southern Africa private sector firms to increase trade and investment across the region.
Combined, the partnerships with 260 Brands, AfriFruta, European African Seed Initiative (EASI), and Nature’s Nectar, will leverage nearly $7.75 million (approximately 125 million rand) in United States Government and private sector funding. The partnerships will generate $2.77 (approximately 45 million rand) in agricultural exports during two years alone, unleashing innovative technologies and business models and improving the livelihoods of about 128,700 smallholder farmers (51 percent women) by fostering more inclusive and sustainable supply chains.
USAID leads and manages the Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships (MSP) Activity. This provides Southern African businesses with the opportunity to co-invest with USAID to:
- Increase agricultural trade from regional countries to South Africa
- Increase agricultural investment from South Africa to the region
- Increase agricultural exports from southern African countries to the United States through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
“USAID is thrilled to announce this first cohort of private sector partnerships as part of our long-term strategy to advance agricultural market systems and improve the lives of smallholder farmers,” says Andy Karas, USAID/Southern Africa’s Mission Director.
The four private sector firms awarded grants are:
- Zambian food and beverage company 260 Brands will expand its products to include premium soy milk, organic milk, and more shelf stable milk, improving their ability to compete in and export to regional markets. The partnership introduces two innovations: piloting and testing a new organic certified sourcing model with contract smallholder farmers (40 percent of which will be women), and expanding the firm’s processing capability to include aseptic, shelf stable milk, which allows them to compete in the South Africa market. 260 Brand’s investment is three-and-a-half times USAID’s funding.
- Mozambique-based mango processing company AfriFruta will introduce multiple new mango tree varieties that extend the harvest window and increase exports to South Africa and beyond. AfriFruta will contract with 1,200 smallholder farming households (primarily headed by women) as suppliers, strengthening livelihoods and food security of these communities.
- South Africa-based EASI will increase production and distribution of smallholder farmer-generated seeds, addressing a significant market shortfall in the region, spurring a more forward-leaning seed sector and a more competitive agro-industry in the region overall. The partnership supports EASI to expand contracting and training to smallholder farmers in three new countries: Malawi, Eswatini, and Lesotho.
- Zambia-based sustainable honey processor Nature’s Nectar will introduce new honey processing technology to increase product quality and expand its relationships with smallholder beekeeper suppliers (50 percent of which are female) into a sustainable-sourced supply chain. These investments will increase regional trade opportunities and demand for local raw honey.
USAID's co-investment in these companies and its interest in co-investing with private sector companies in the region reflects a growing consensus that private investment is critical to inclusive, sustainable development. These efforts will complement and support current USAID policies and priorities, including the USAID Private Sector Engagement Policy, the U.S. Government’s Africa strategy, and Prosper Africa.