Fair chains are the way of the future in the world food market. Investing in food value chains is not only an obligation – it also offers scope for contributing to sustainable economic development in developing countries, said social entrepreneur Jaap-Jan Verboom at the launch of Truvalu, a new part of the global development organization ICCO Cooperation. Truvalu makes use of the opportunities offered by the world food market to enable agrifood and food-processing companies in developing countries to grow and increase their market share.
Unprocessed agricultural commodities, like cacao and coffee, are the main export products for emerging economies. Processing these into marketable products is a profitable activity but is often done in Europe. Verboom: “That’s why local economic development is going nowhere. If we can enable farmers not only to get a fair price for their produce, but also ensure that processing and packaging is organized locally, we can help create economic value that will make a real difference. I am convinced that this is the way to meet the growing market demand and become the food international of the future.”
Truvalu starts with an impressive portfolio
Verboom knows what he is talking about. Within ICCO, he and his team have been developing agribusinesses and investing in them for several years already. The investment portfolio is worth around three million euros and includes an impressive 30 companies. Truvalu’s successes include the local marketing of the popular fermented beverage Bushera in Uganda and the export of exclusive Lovsum chocolates from Colombia, which are available in the WAAR-shops in the Netherlands.
ICCO set up Truvalu as a way of consolidating its experience and the instruments it has developed, so that it can further increase its impact. Verboom: “Truvalu is a unique concept. It is an independent social enterprise that “co-entrepreneurs” with high-potential businesses in developing countries. We participate in innovative startups, we invest in SMEs with growth potential, we train their staff, we professionalize business operations and we provide access to the European market.”
Investment in agribusiness is increasingly attractive
Agribusiness is still the single most important productive sector in most low-income countries, often in terms of its share of GDP and in terms of the number of people it employs. The growing world population, rapidly changing eating habits in emerging markets and climate change are pushing up the demand for and supply of food. Innovation is a necessity and investing in agriculture is becoming increasingly attractive, especially in emerging markets, where guaranteeing food security is most urgent and the impact of climate change hits hardest.
ICCO has high hopes for Truvalu. CFO Wim Hart said, “Investing in SMEs is key to achieving the sustainable development goals and fighting poverty. Truvalu represents a unique combination of entrepreneurship, realism, innovation and a can-do attitude, and already contributes significantly to our organization’s mission to alleviate poverty.”
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