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This agribusiness start-up has brought novelty to cocoa processing in Ghana

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Mi-Cocoa (MC) is an agribusiness start-up in Ghana was founded in May 2018 on the back of 13 years of active traditional cocoa farming.
Untapped Opportunity in Cocoa Processing

Mi-Cocoa has recognized that there is a huge untapped opportunity in Ghana to augment and market the entire cocoa processing experience as is done in places like Grenada and Sao Tome. Cocoa beans used for chocolate and other cocoa products are also being traced by discerning customers to their original source, just as wine is traced to particular vineyards.

This trend opens up a world of possibilities in the cocoa farming industry, which MI-Cocoa has unearthed. The agribusiness start-up seeks to realise additional value from the cocoa bean and has come up with a range of products derived both through strategic collaborations and enhanced processing of the erstwhile sun-dried and fermented beans.

CEO of MI-Cocoa, currently has almost 70 acres of Cocoa at various stages of growth under cultivation. In the relatively short time that the products have gone to market, Mi-Cocoa products have generated wide interest in both the local and international markets.

Mission and Objectives

A dedicated team of eight (8) staff members, keep the wheels of the agribusiness in motion. The mission of the agribusiness startup is ” To develop an authentic Ghanaian cocoa-agribusiness venture which directly benefits all the participants involved in the value chain by harnessing innovation, inspiring change, generating employment, creating wealth and securing the livelihood of future generations”.

In addition to its mission, MI-Cocoa seeks to achieve the following objectives

  • To develop a comprehensive range of value added products from raw cocoa beans both for internal consumption in Ghana and for export in line with Ghana COCOBOD’s target of up to 50% value addition of currently exported raw cacao beans.
  • To demonstrate to indigenous cocoa communities that a vertically integrated agri-business has the potential to yield great returns. By this we seek to stem the mass exodus from the rural cocoa growing areas of the youth and provide employment, mentoring and training opportunities  for them
  • To restore royalty, dignity and wealth back to cocoa farming.
MI-Cocoa Brand and Product range

Due to the background of the primary founder as a traditional chief, the founders decided to adopt the brand name of Ohene Cocoa since Ohene means Chief in the Akan language of Ghana. This was with a view to restoring some of the traditional heritage associated with cocoa farming in Ghana.

ALSO READ: Nana Aduna II – A Medical Officer who revolutionalised cocoa processing in Ghana

MC realised that there were a myriad of cocoa products available in Europe, the US and other developed countries, however none of those were being produced in Ghana. Also, every single part of the cocoa pod had multiple uses. In line with the business’ sustainability goals, they began researching the possibilities and set out to demonstrate that what is already discovered about cocoa processing in Ghana is only the tip of the iceberg! 

The agribusiness start-up’s model for product development is in collaboration with selected artisans who share the passion and vision to see Ghana’s cocoa products take their rightful place on the global cocoa map. The story is still unfolding.

Product range is called the ‘Adepa’ range. ‘Adepa’ in the Akan language means ‘A Good Thing’. Products reflect the rich nutritional and versatility profile cocoa possesses. The Adepa range stirs hearts and minds to the fact that there is a whole lot more to cocoa processing in Ghana than Cocoa just being an export crop or the main ingredient in chocolate. Their product range (both currently available and under development) is as detailed below:- 

  • ADUANPA (Food, Health/Wellness)
  • Cocoa Nibs
  • Cocoa Crunch & other Cocoa Confectionery & Chocolate
  • Cocoa Husk Tea 
  • Cocoa Wine
  • Cocoa Cereals & Trail Mixes (under development)
  • ASETENAPA (Home & Well-Being)
  • Cocoa Candles, Cocoa Pot Pourri
  • ODWENFOPA (Art)
  • Cocoa Art pieces & Collectors’ Items
  • ADEKYEPA (Gifts)
  • Cocoa Gift Boxes & Hampers
  • OKUAFOPA (Farm Tours)
  • Cocoa Eco-Tours & Trail Hikes
  • HONAMPA (Skincare/Cosmetics)
  • Cocoa Soaps
  • Cocoa Scrubs, Face Masks, Serums, Body Butters (under development)
Agribusiness start-up
Some of the product range of MI-Cocoa

The agribusiness start-up is currently in discussions with Solidaridad on their CORRIP II and MASO Programs. Solidaridad is an international organization that focuses on stimulating sustainable supply chains with a particular focus on food security, nutrition and community development.

Achievements of MI-Cocoa Ltd

  • Winners of Best Cocoa Consumption Campaign Award @ 1st Ghana Cocoa Awards –  Nov 2019
  • Winners of Best Artisanal Cocoa Processing Company Award @ 1st Ghana Cocoa Awards –  Nov 2019
  • Winner of Cocoa Ecotourism Award @ 2nd Ghana Cocoa Awards – Nov 2020
MI-Cocoa reach and markets

Up until this time, the agribusiness start-up has focused on the local market. Having recently achieved full FDA certification in the 3rd quarter of 2020, the start-up is poised and ready to process cocoa in Ghana for export. It has a dedicated following of customers in Europe, the US, Asia and other parts of Africa. The business intends to focus on exports from the second quarter of 2021.

The post This agribusiness start-up has brought novelty to cocoa processing in Ghana appeared first on Ghana Talks Business.

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Two entrepreneurs share insights into opportunities in cocoa processing in Ghana

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Agriculture which offers close to 70% of the population in Africa employment opportunities is a proven pathway to Africa’s prosperity. However, the problem of a lack of value addition stifles its growth.
Poor Cocoa processing in Ghana & West Africa

This failure of the West African Sub-region to add value to crops before they are exported is the most complex and burdensome problem the entire agriculture value chain faces.
This problem particularly remains true for one of the region’s most valuable crop, cocoa. West Africa is said to be the world’s largest producer of cocoa, with Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana producing over 60% of the world’s output. 75% of cocoa, however, is exported as raw beans to Europe and Asia, with only a quarter remaining in the region for processing into cocoa butter, powder, chocolate, and other products. This leaves a greater share for value addition to be undertaken by such foreign companies as Hershey and Mars.

While the majority of our local cocoa farmers remain poor, a company such as Hershey is valued at US$31.64 billion due to one simple factor, value addition. The strength in value addition cannot be oversimplified and underestimated. It generates revenue, creates employment, improves livelihoods, and supports a nation’s overall economic growth.

In an interview with Ghana Talks Business, the founder of Mi-Cocoa (MC), Nana Aduna II explains the importance of value addition in the cocoa industry and the opportunities in the cocoa processing sector in Ghana.

Cocoa Processing in Ghana- By MI-Cocoa
Riding on the back of over 13 years of experience in cocoa farming and realizing the need for value addition, Mi-Cocoa (MC) began to add value to its cocoa by developing a wide array of products. The agribusiness startup also noticed that every single part of the cocoa pod had significant and multiple uses. And began research into the huge untapped opportunity that cocoa value addition had to offer.

The aftermath was a wide range of cocoa products called ‘Adepa,’ an Akan language which means ‘A Good Thing.’ Mi-Cocoa products include:

ALSO READ: This agribusiness start-up has brought novelty to cocoa processing in Ghana

• Cocoa Nibs (“health superfood products”)
• Cocoa Crunch & other Cocoa Confectionery & Chocolate
• Cocoa Husk Tea
• Cocoa Wine
• Cocoa Cereals & Trail Mixes (under development)

ASETENAPA (Home & Well-Being)
Cocoa Candles, Cocoa Pot Pourri

ODWENFOPA (Art)
Cocoa Art pieces & Collectors’ Items

ADEKYEPA (Gifts)
Cocoa Gift Boxes & Hampers

OKUAFOPA (Farm Tours)
Cocoa Eco-Tours & Trail Hikes

HONAMPA (Skincare/Cosmetics)
Cocoa Soaps
Cocoa Scrubs, Face Masks, Serums, Body Butters (under development)

Lucrative Opportunities in Cocoa processing in Ghana
Nana Aduna II, clearly noted that each value chain of the cocoa industry is profitable but remains untapped. He mentioned the value addition opportunities in cocoa, other than manufacturing chocolate. This includes the following:

  • Processing skincare products and cosmetics from cocoa bean
  • Mechanization of cocoa farmlands since most farmers are still involved in rudimentary practices
  • Manufacturing of Cocoa drinks

The chocolate industry is worth US$100 billion. Including other cocoa products such as skincare and cosmetics should give a sense of the true profitability of the industry.
He advised young entrepreneurs to seize the opportunity but “background work must be done properly.” Understand the industry and start to see cocoa beyond the current exposure.

CEO of Decokraft

In another of of Ghana Talks Business’ interview with entrepreneurs, Akua Obenewaa Donkor, the CEO of Decorkraft, had this to say about opportunities in cocoa processing in Ghana.

Yes, It is not even with chocolate, let me just talk about the whole cocoa. The whole cocoa is a value chain, and at every point a part of the cocoa is important. Right from the pods that they leave in the farm, the husk that is taken from the cocoa bean to sell, there is so much we can do with cocoa but it still remains an untapped industry in Ghana.

All we do is that we take the bean and we ship it outside the country for it to be used as chocolate and brought back to us. But there is so much we can do. Something like the husk can be used as a tea. The pods, I know some people use it as potash for soap. Even, you can get gin from the fleshy part of the cocoa bean. So, there’s a whole lot to be done, just that it still remains an untapped industry. And it is not just chocolate, cocoa powder can be used for drinks and all that.

Pursuing opportunities in Cocoa processing in Ghana takes a lot more than the technical know-how. Like all other business opportunities, determination, and a can-do spirit is necessary to succeed. Also, Cocoa is a highly regulated sector, and all players must adhere to regulatory requirements to succeed.

The post Two entrepreneurs share insights into opportunities in cocoa processing in Ghana appeared first on Ghana Talks Business.

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Deploying True Entrepreneurship in the fight against Covid

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Imagine you wanted your child, Kofi, to take a swim class. You hire the best tutor you can find, Teacher Ama. She then proceeds to teach Kofi every single muscle movement necessary to make him an expert swimmer. Kofi learns breathing techniques, body positioning, arm-and-leg coordination, and he memorises every one of them perfectly. By the time Kofi is done with the classes, he might as well be a tutor to you yourself because he can remember everything Teacher Ama taught during the class.

By that standard, A+ is all but guaranteed.

When the exams are due, and you are confident. Kofi is confident. He knows what to do. Kofi remembers what to do and is very ready to do it. Let us all now remember that Teacher Ama hadn’t given a single one of those lessons in the water. She did what she was hired to do: teach swimming.

If Teacher Ama throws your child Kofi into the pool on finals day, what do you think will happen? Will all the book knowledge in the world help? I mean, Kofi knows what to do. But what you and Kofi will both realise very fast is that some things can be taught, like accounting cycles and business administration principles.

If we want to truly train entrepreneurs to fight COVID, we need to get people to practice it as this is the only means to get meaningful results.

Some things, like true entrepreneurship, are only learnt, through practice.

If you wonder why many companies fail though their leadership are very highly educated, the above analogy is my theory. You might know how to add numbers, understand the principles of trading, and be an accounting wiz but without getting into the proverbial water, that wouldn’t make you a seasoned entrepreneur. I am still learning to appreciate this fact even the more.

Some of Ghana’s biggest companies have been built by seasoned entrepreneurs who started out without much of a formal education. Yet, side-by-side, their financial ratios would trump many businesses in the formal sector, easily. Our Makola Market Millionaires remain proof of this. And oh they are; those market women really are millionaires, dollar millionaires.

Relevant to the subject matter, classroom entrepreneurship is an unnatural environment.

The fundamental flaw of most efforts at entrepreneurship education is that it occurs in the most common artificial environment: the classroom. Entrepreneurship education has been very necessary and should be all the more encouraged. In today’s world, some degree of formal education is always necessary if one wants to acquire wealth. Most people know that by now.

I am only saying that the theories and principles taught in the classroom can only be well applied in practice, and mastered through practice in a real situation. Classroom entrepreneurship, just like with Kofi, is an unnatural environment as far as the subject matter is concerned and not a real business environment executing a real business idea into which you’re willing to invest your money and that of your friends and family.

One can say business entrepreneurship is social entrepreneurship.

One main reason for running a business is to make money – profit. Nonetheless, the inadvertent result of this is social services because businesses creates jobs, contributes to public fiscal health and boosts the overall economy. Arguably, wouldn’t that be in line with the literal definition of “social” “services”?

I assume the economic preposition is that when 1 Ghana Cedi is spent, it triggers about 10 Ghana Cedi worth of indirect investment. When you pay for labour, the recipient of said payment will spend that money buying consumer goods or services. Indirectly, you have contributed to the growth of all those other relevant sectors.

The moment that labourer spends that payment you gave him, you then have affected all the suppliers and distributors and the transporters connected to the relevant sectors of his spend, and those connected to the just aforementioned sectors as well. Even the Government gets to benefit through taxation.

This has been the singing tune of some of the world’s rich and wealthy, as their response to being called out on their relative inactivity in charity and other philanthropic deeds. Because the fact is that the original intention of an entrepreneur might not be to engage in social welfare, but it inevitably ends up there by default, in a sense.

Business/Social entrepreneurship and COVID-19

Even with a vaccine in sight, this novel coronavirus continues to cause unparalleled havoc in almost every sector of our lives. Our medical practitioners and other key volunteers have served as essential frontline workers. Without their immense efforts, the already very bad situation would be much worse.

Do you know who else we need to thank God for – Veronica Bekoe, the inventor of the now famous Veronica Bucket. Her invention is now being used all over the world. It is indeed a global village and in this village, Veronica Bekoe is worthy to be counted as a frontline responder in this period of great peril. Her invention might have come before the COVID outbreak but look at how much in demand the Veronica bucket is now. It’s currently a staple in our homes, offices, schools and churches.

Auntie Veronica’s invention helps to fights a health crisis. She’s a biological scientist who did not patent her invention, her gift to the world, be in intentional or unintentional. A welcomed gift that we are lucky to have had. I’m just saying that bucket is very important.

Ask yourself this: what and who are going to fight the economic effects of the coronavirus? Heavy borrowing of money? I hope not.

If, as I tried to illustrate earlier, indeed business entrepreneurship is social entrepreneurship, and business entrepreneurship is crucial to social economic welfare, it is safe to suggest that promoting business entrepreneurship amongst Ghanaians should do a great deal to fight the economic effects of COVID.

The World Bank thinks same… or close.

In a report titled The African Continental Free Trade Area, Economic and Distributional Effects, the World Bank stated, “A successful implementation of AfCFTA would be crucial. In the short term, the agreement would help cushion the negative effects of COVID-19 on economic growth by supporting regional trade and value chains through the reduction of trade costs. In the longer term, AfCFTA would allow countries to anchor expectations by providing a path for integration and growth-enhancing reforms.

Furthermore, the pandemic has demonstrated the need for increased cooperation among trading partners. By replacing the patchwork of regional agreements, streamlining border procedures, and prioritizing trade reforms, AfCFTA could help countries increase their resiliency in the face of future economic shocks”.

This same World Bank estimated that 100 million people could end up in extreme poverty as a result  of COVID. And guess what… that number could easily go much higher. The many business sectors that  have been hit continue to lose anywhere between 20% and 80% of their turnover. This affect employees thereby affecting their dependents.

Africa’s entrepreneurs will be frontline in fighting COVID on the economic front.

A frontline worker is one that provides essential services key to the survival of the sector. I paraphrase; hear me out. We need more entrepreneurs right now. We need more innovation to facilitate this need. This is how we rebuild.

If we want to fight the devastating effects of COVID on our pockets, a lasting solution that’ll stand the test of time will be pushing policies that encourage the public to start some basic form of entrepreneurship and/or trade in Ghana. It’s a all-hands-on-deck approach: government, banks, private institutions and the public at large.

In order for this to work, we need to normalise (even necessitate) entrepreneurship alongside creating an ecosystem that allow entrepreneurs and their businesses to thrive. Access to capital, the systems that facilitate secure funding and other support services all help create this ecosystem I speak of.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

I just read through the whole article and I seem to type like I know all the answers huh? No I don’t have all the answers. I write all this only because the more I embark on this path of entrepreneurship at the level I’m operating, the more I know what I do not know but previously thought I did, leading me to conclude that I, and many others, do not know the lot that we do not know. Knowing you don’t really know is still knowing something, right? It is vital step to effective learning.

Join me on other episodes of the ‘Entrepreneur In You’ Podcast to know more.

‘Entrepreneur In You’ Podcast – where you’ll find real value all year round.

This year, my outlet of choice will be the ‘Entrepreneur In You’ column and podcast – audio and video. I will be sharing articles, funding offers, job opportunities, trade deals, mentorship programs, while also having conversations with famous and successful people we all know and read about. We will discuss their journey, how they got their spark, what drives their inner entrepreneur, and how they’ve been ‘creating or extracting value’ in many ways than we know. All these are in an effort to share ideas, offer real help and demonstrate life hacks that equip our audience with the proper tools needed to bring out the Entrepreneur In You.

Stay tuned!

Maxwell Ampong is an Agro-Commodities Trader and the CEO of Maxwell Investments Group. He is also the Official Business Advisor to Ghana’s General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of TUC Ghana, the largest agricultural trade union in Ghana. He writes about trending and relevant economic topics, and general perspective pieces.

LinkedIn:/in/thisisthemax   Instagram:@thisisthemax   Twitter:@thisisthemax   Facebook:@thisisthemax   Website: www.maxwellinvestmentsgroup.com   Email: maxwell@maxwellinvestmentsgroup.com    Mobile: 0249993319

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Cloud computing, and how it can help your business grow

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In recent times, we have witnessed the adoption of cloud computing by several companies across varying industries. Cloud computing is rendering traditional IT solutions redundant. It is time to embrace the age of ‘the cloud’ to ensure better business automation for enhanced business performance, development, and growth, irrespective of the scale of your business.

If your business is already using services like Dropbox and Google Drive to store files or using Microsoft Teams to facilitate communication then you are already using some form of cloud computing.

What is cloud computing?

According to IBM, “cloud computing is on-demand access, via the internet, to computing resources—applications, servers (physical servers and virtual servers), data storage, development tools, networking capabilities, and more—hosted at a remote data center managed by a cloud services provider (or CSP).”
In its simplicity, cloud computing refers to storing and accessing data and programs over the internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.

ALSO READ: How To Employ Technology For Business Excellence

Uses of the cloud
Cloud computing is a broad term for different types of cloud services, including:

Cloud storage & backup: store and back up your files for easy and regular access. Files can also be shared and synced across devices. Cloud backup has been designed to serve as a failsafe solution if your business happens to experience a data breach or loss or server crash.

Software as a Service (SaaS): This is where a business subscribes to an application it accesses over the internet such as Office 365, Google Apps, and Salesforce.

Cloud hosting: this is centered on facilitating multiple types of information sharing, such as email services, application hosting, and web-based phone systems.

The types of cloud services businesses use

Software as a Service (SaaS): This is where a business subscribes to an application it accesses over the internet such as Office 365, Google Apps, and Salesforce.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): This is where a business can create its applications for use by every staff/worker in the company.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This is where companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google provide a backbone that can be “rented out” by other companies. Just as Netflix is a customer of the cloud services at Amazon.

Benefits of the cloud to your business

Cloud computing offers enormous access to businesses particularly in the area of boosting productivity to ensure overall growth.

Cost efficiency: Cloud computing can help your business reduce the costs required to purchase expensive hardware for storing and sharing data. Your company can use a pay-as-you-go or a subscription model which can help reduce operational and infrastructural costs. Many small and medium-sized enterprises are recognizing the ease in setting up and managing a cloud infrastructure.

Effective collaboration: With cloud computing, the limitations in communication are removed. Employees working from different parts of the world or home can access the same document and data without excuses. This enhances collaboration across employees and streamlines processes, which means more work gets done in less time.

Increased data protection/security: Cloud computing ensures all your companies data or information are secured. In the eventuality, your computer gets stolen or your storage devices get destroyed, your data/information is still secured and can be accessed with another device.

Easily scalable: This is one major merit of cloud computing. Cloud computing has been designed to be scaled to meet a business changing IT needs. As a company grows, so does the need for more storage capacity and bandwidth to cope with increasing traffic to the website. Thus, cloud computing can help your business scale up or down to ensure optimum performance. Cloud computing also helps to improve your website speed and minimize downtime.

Easy, free, and timely updates: Most cloud service providers offer regular system updates and maintenance to ensure your IT requirements are consistently met since the servers are off-premises. This frees up the time and money that businesses spend doing this in-house.

Business continuity: With reliable disaster recovery and backup solutions, cloud computing ensures your business stays in business. Being able to access your data again quickly after a failure or disaster ensures your business continues to operate as scheduled.

Enhanced engagement with customers: Having a strong customer support strategy is key to the success of a company, after all, it is the customer that pays a company for the product(s) or service(s) it renders. The cloud allows for the effective creation of, customer-oriented apps, adding a touch of personalization to customers’ app experiences. The company’s marketing or IT staff can then access information regarding a customer’s in-app experience and offer timely and relevant feedback and support.

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