Youth Entrepreneur Expands and Improves Her Business After F2F Support
Eric M. Washington
Over the years, Winrock International’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program has worked with numerous women’s organizations that have shown incredible resilience and determination to succeed. Women like Fatou Titine Cissoko founded Enterprise Fatou et Kadija, a Guinean agribusiness specializing in the solar drying of fruits and producing exotic Guinean drinks. With the help of Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteers, Fatou received training in financial literacy, food processing, and food preservation, which enabled her to expand her product offerings and increase her profits by 40% to 50%. Fatou’s success is just one example of how women in agriculture drive innovation and growth in their communities. Through the Farmer-to-Farmer Program, women gain confidence and become leaders in their fields. We have also witnessed the positive impact women’s participation in agriculture can have on their families and the broader community.
The Prefecture of Kindia, commonly called the capital of citrus fruits due to its abundance of a variety of tropical fruits, is full of young entrepreneurs who process fruits and produce local drinks. Under-equipped and lacking knowledge of good manufacturing techniques and hygiene standards, these entrepreneurs flood the market with lower-quality products. Thanks to the support of F2F volunteers, one youth-led enterprise is rising above its peers. Enterprise Fatou et Kadija (EFK), a startup company led by a young woman named Fatou Titine Cissoko, is gaining success by providing juice and jam products that meet market demand and quality standards.
EFK is a Guinean agribusiness processing company specializing in the solar drying of fruits (pineapple and mango) and the production of exotic Guinean drinks. The founder and owner, Ms. Cissoko, was trained in entrepreneurship topics by prior USAID-funded Associate Awards implemented by Winrock International and CNFA. As part of her participation in entrepreneurship training, Ms. Cissoko created a business plan and received a grant of US$ 900 (8,134,500 GNF) to start her fruit-drying business, EFK. Since starting the business in 2019, she has added the production of drinks and jams made from fruits such as ginger, pineapple, mango, etc.
Recognizing that she needed further technical and organizational capacity-building skills to grow her business, Ms. Cissoko reached out to the Guinea Farmer-to-Farmer program to receive training in financial literacy and food processing and preservation to better produce tropical fruit drinks.
“During the financial literacy training, I learned how to approach financial institutions with my business plan. I admit that I was afraid because these institutions are very demanding, and as a young entrepreneur, I have no guarantees to offer. Nevertheless, following my meeting with them, two of the most important banks in the area came back to me and offered me credit opportunities…” explains Ms. Cissoko.
She plans to utilize a finance option soon to invest in expanding her production and feels that the banks’ willingness to offer her credit options offers an opportunity to prove that young entrepreneurs are solid investments. The F2F technical training focused on processing techniques followed the financial literacy capacity building and has led to additional product offerings for EFK. Prior to receiving training, EFK was unable to produce quality ginger juice and jams. Since receiving training, EFK now produces and sells quality ginger juice, jams, and monkey bread juice, resulting in a 40 to 50% increase in profits. EFK has sold more than 300 bottles of monkey juice alone within a few months after learning of this new product from the Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer. Ms. Cissoko and EFK’s goals are to continue to expand product offerings that meet quality standards and hope as the business grows that, they will be able to employ more young staff in the future.