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Patience Chindong is a passionate and committed Communication and Project Management Specialist trained in Cameroon and Netherlands. She obtained a Master’s Degree at WUR in Applied Communication Science, with a minor in Food Technology and Food Law in International Settings. She has work to improve the livelihoods of underprivileged communities and assisting prospective African agribusinesses and students to develop skills and linkages with prospective European investors and educational institutions. Having collaborated and partnered with AIEC, the CEO of EuroAfri Link (EAL), is confident that Africans will benefit from trade for their produce, improve access to finance for Agri-development projects.
Here is Patience’s interview with Beetroot Africa.
Being originally from Cameroon and the first experience I had working on the farms was with my mother Martha Chindong which motivated me to study Management of Development (MoD) at Van Hall Larenstein (VHL) and later apply it to communication science at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) where I began my career path in the agri-sector.
During my university studies, I learned that targeted and effective communication can be a game-changer for low income earners. Becoming information literate can help to uplift farmers and their social position to live a dignified life.
Also, working with some organisations Like MDF, Ede in the Netherlands made me realise the gap in information and knowledge sharing between African agribusinesses and European off takers (buyers) and investors. This is when I was inspired to create EuroAfri Link, a social enterprise that aims to connect European entrepreneurs to African agribusinesses through win-win collaborations.
EuroAfri Link aims to encourage international trade between Africa and Europe that is free, fair, inclusive and sustainable. Our role is to act as facilitators and representatives of on the one hand the client suppliers, supporting them to enter European markets to sell their product, and on the other client buyers, managing the transaction process at all stages.
Africa produces more than 80% of the food in the world because of its extremely rich soil and climate conditions. However, due to a lack of information regarding markets and formal transactions, farmers often are excluded from the most profitable market nodes resulting in them having to sell their products at minimum prices. This is where EuroAfri Link can support, paying close attention to the opportunities available to the youth and women farmers.
We not only link but also represent the producer (seller) during negotiations, signing of contracts, marketing strategies and managing the transaction process at all stages. We are committed to building a trusting relationship between the buyer and seller in order that both parties are satisfied.
Indeed, the world sees Africa as the next breadbasket due to its potential to feed the world with healthy and diversified foods taking into account the ever-increasing global population. However, there are some limitations to this theory which include:
5. What are the current agricultural trends in Africa and how has the agricultural sector evolved in the past decades?
Agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s livelihood and its population. Therefore, Africa has the potential to play a huge role in shaping agricultural trends and the related issues such as population growth and feeding the world, climate change, acquiring land rights ownership for women. Understanding the current trend in agriculture for the continent is the way forward. Currently Africa has experienced a shift in agricultural trends that will shape business landscape and its future operations. For example:
6. What challenges have you faced since the formation of EuroAfri Link in executing your company’s objectives?
I have faced challenges with both farmers and buyers which in some cases, has made achieving goals difficult. With good communication and negotiation, EuroAfri Link has been able to close fair deals with both parties.
For example, farmers will often increase their prices when they are aware of deals with Europe. This is unfortunate as these conditions make it difficult to secure long-term business agreements. Buyers are astute to this and will not engage in negotiations.
Buyers on the other hand are profit-oriented and often do not take into account the intense labour process for farmers when bidding for the product price. The goal is to secure a fair deal for both parties and therefore, EuroAfri Link is meticulous about the terms and conditions of the contracts.
To date, the projects managed by EuroAfri Link have had positive outcomes where buyers have shown satisfactions with the sample and final product delivered to them. It is a pleasure to be a part of this process, showcasing the work of the farmers at a global level.
The idea is for farmers to deliver what they promised and for the buyers to pay what was agreed upon. In this way as I said earlier, it establishes trust and everyone is happy.
Whilst there is hunger in the world and an ever-increasing population requiring food, there will always be the need for more products from Africa to feed into the world food markets. Spices and plants-based protein crops are essential to these developments. My wish is for Africa to lead with such products for expanding African market as well as improving the nutrition on the continent.
Indeed, our biggest success story has been in 2020 with the delivery of shea butter from northern Uganda to the Netherlands. We also secured the export of cocoa beans from a smallholder in Cameroon to Estonia for monthly deliveries. This is significant progress for EuroAfri Link.
Another important development has been establishing a partnership with AIEC with whom we are currently engaging in funding projects that have great potential.
My personal goal is to add value to goods and raw materials from Africa so that these can be exported as value-added finished products. That is where the profit lies. Commodity trade alone will not promote growth, we must improve on our manufacturing industry and renewable energy sector especially because Africa has an abundance of sunlight which can be utilised for energy generation.
We must be innovative and creative in finding new ways to doing business.
10. What advice would you give to Africans who want to venture into Agribusiness?