My name is Jayna Wiatta Thomas, but I go by Wiatta. I am 31 years old, and I live in Kindia, Guinea. I am a co-founder of Dare to Innovate and NATRI.
Guinea is an agriculturally blessed country. Over 70% of our land is farmable land and we have 4 unique regions where we can grow anything from apples to asparagus. We also have 4 neighboring countries are consistent food deserts. Before past political upheavals, Guinea was at one point the world’s largest exporter of mangos and pineapples.
Yet, Guinea’s youth unemployment rate is 70%. We were rated the worst country for Doing Business in 2015. Our 2016 projection for economic growth is 0. Guinea’s economy is mostly informal, and Guinea’s major employers are several very large companies and the government, who cannot provide employment for all. Where is the disconnect between the agricultural wealth and the economic reality?
Because Guinea is an unexploited agricultural POWERHOUSE, agribusiness has an ENORMOUS potential to employ youth. But agriculture for most youth is not sexy: it’s rural, poor, and a thing of the past. They don’t see its power to create wealth. Rather than rely on weak local agricultural production and logistics, most restaurants and hotels in Conakry import their produce from Morocco, France, or Lebanon, further weakening the system. Those restaurants that do buy locally complain of exorbitant costs due to multiple middle men that increase prices. In this scenario, only the final wholesaler wins – the client and the farmer both lose.
Our solution is Natri: Pour un Gout Naturel. Who are we? We are Dare to Innovate, an social business supporting entrepreneurs through training and investment. We are 5 former Guinea Peace Corps Volunteers with a radical dream to end unemployment in West Africa though market based solutions. I am Wiatta Thomas, co-founder of NATRI and Dare to Innovate, and I coordinate our operations from Kindia, Guinea.
Natri is revolutionizing the Guinean agricultural value chain by eliminating middle men and allowing clients to communicate their needs directly to producers. Our first product is the preparation, packaging, and delivery of fresh agricultural produce. We provide high quality continuous logistics from farm-to-table. Natri works with high-end clients such as large hotels and restaurants to understand their needs and then trains and invests in young farmers to supply those needs.
This reduces the amount of imports, provides clients with a direct line to local suppliers, increases the incomes of young farmers, decreases youth unemployment, introduces new varieties of produce into the market, and increases the capacity and quality of the agricultural sector. As the quality and volume of Guinea’s agricultural production increases to supply the high-end local market, the overall capacity of the agricultural sector increases to support export and food processing markets.
In 5 years we can more than quadruple the returns of Guinea’s the agricultural sector. Join us on this journey!
Over the past year we have invested in the agribusinesses of 7 Guinean agropreneurs who will all start production within the next month, we have done extensive market research and have secured 4 initial clients, and we have secured a cold storage unit, pack house, and refrigerated truck. We have a volunteer agricultural technician working with us through August of this year to train our agropreneurs and build an integrated system that will allow our agropreneurs to provide high quality produce year round. We would use the $5k to purchase a corn husker ($500), pay 6 month rental of a cold storage unit and pack house ($1k), and labor for the launch ($2k), and finish payments on our truck ($1.5k). With this investment, we will be able to launch full operations by September of 2016. We will create at least 50 jobs and invest in 7 more agribusinesses in 2016 through this sustainable system.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Jayna Wiatta Thomas (Guinea) – wiattajthomas(at)gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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