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Ghana Flag

Ghana is poised to be part of the global health and wellness market that is expected to hit a record high of $1 trillion by 2017 following the recent successful awareness campaign in the UK of the nutrient-dense super fruit that comes from the country’s baobab tree.

Ghana Flag
Ghana Flag
Some 1,000 women in the Upper East Region are already benefiting from being part of a supply chain that has seen their earnings leap from GHS50 to GHS700 a year.

On the whole, the baobab tree can provide sustainable incomes for 800,000 women in Ghana and 10 million across Africa.

According to National Geographic magazine, the rural communities in the 32 African countries in which the baobab tree grows stand to earn $1 billion a year from its produce.

Spearheading this new approach to giving Africans the opportunity to add value to their natural resources for export is London-based Aduna, which the founders say is an “Africa-inspired health and beauty brand and social business”.

Speaking to the GNA in Aduna’s South London office, co-founder and Managing Director Andrew Hunt was upbeat about the prospects for Aduna Baobab Superfruit Powder, which the company says is a “100 per cent organic raw wholefood that is rich in vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants”.

Introduced to the UK public some three years ago, Aduna Baobab received a huge boost in sales in February when the company launched a five-week #MakeBaobabFamous campaign that was funded by a £100,000 prize provided by Virgin, a UK-based media company.
All 750 stores belonging to Holland & Barrett, a major UK health food store chain, had a baobab makeover for five weeks with 400 stores getting a full #MBF window takeover.

This was backed by a mass-sharing campaign online, which was supported by influencers, brands, bloggers, media, vloggers and customers all over the world.
“In total, our #MakeBaobabFamous hashtag had an incredible 20 million impressions on Twitter & Instagram alone,” says Sophie Capron, Aduna’s Communications Director.

“One hundred million people walked past our baobab shop windows.

“We managed to reach 129 million people in five weeks – not bad for a small start-up social business.”

What all of these activities have added up to is to provide massive interest in Aduna Baobab.

According to Mr Hunt, Aduna’s strategy is to first create a demand for Africa’s under-utilised natural products through sustained investment in consumer marketing.

“By creating the demand first we have a better perspective on what the market needs.”
Then the company moves on to the next step: directing that demand to baobab smallholders in rural communities in Ghana.

“This is what NGOs [non-governmental organisations] trying to create social enterprises have overlooked,” Mr Hunter told the GNA.

“There has been a failure of the aid model in rural Africa through a myopic approach.”

He said this approach was invariably to pour in millions of dollars on projects focussing, say, on helping women to grow cash crops with highly paid foreign consultants in air conditioned offices.

“At the end of the day there is no buyer for the produce and everything comes to a standstill.

“When we first went to Ghana in 2014 we discovered there were no buyers for the baobab fruit, no local demand and no opportunities for export.”
But by working with local community groups in the Upper East Region Aduna has been able to succeed where other social enterprise actors have failed.

Unlike other fruits, baobab dries on the branch and it is simply harvested by the 1,000 women in the supply chain who remove the seeds that are then sieved by another group of 50 women at the local Aduna processing centre to create a 100 per cent pure and natural powder that is free from additives, preservatives and added sugar.

The powder is sent to the UK where Aduna has outsourced a packaging company to package the powder for general sale in the UK and international markets.

The ultimate aim, though, is to have the packaging done in Ghana, thus creating further jobs, Mr Hunter told the GNA, adding that the company was looking for investors who would abide by Aduna’s social enterprise ethos – not the get-rich-entrepreneur
who has no interest in the communities that do all the hard work.

Weniamo Kwarayire, 34, from the Pindaa Community in the Upper East Region who is part of the baobab supply chain, attests to Aduna’s excellent business model.

On the company’s website, she said that before working as a supplier she harvested shea nuts and tamarind during the wet season, with poor financial yields.

During the dry season she sold “baobab in the market across the border in Burkina Faso” for low returns.

She would augment this by selling fuel wood, earning “maybe GHS50… enough to buy a few ingredients and soap”.

But after joining the Aduna network, Kwarayire’s fortunes have changed because she can sell her baobab fruits directly to the company and work in the processing centre.

“I don’t have to pay transport cost to sell my fruit or chop and sell fire wood. I spend more time at home and I get paid more,” she says.

“Last season, I earned GHS700 [and] I have used the money to pay for my daughter’s school fees and to buy a bicycle for the two youngest children to travel 7km to attend primary school.

“If not for the baobab project, my children would not be able to go to school beyond primary level.

“Now my children are staying in school and I have resources… to provide food for the family, Kwarayire added.

During the dry season in 2015, Aduna harvested 50 tons of baobab fruits, with the figure rising to 150 tons this year.

Mr Hunter is quite positive about the all-round financial success of the project; earnings of £650,000 are expected to be doubled this year and rise annually.

For Aduna, the aim is to run a sustainable business that helps local communities in Ghana.

It has branched out into marketing Aduna Super Cacao and Aduna Moringa Green Superleaf Powder – using the same business methods for the baobab project.

The future appears to augur well for Aduna, given the support in the UK for the creation of a sustainable market for a fruit that could transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Northern Ghana far more than what aid can achieve.

Then there is the phenomenal growth in the global health food industry, which Euromonitor International notes is being fuelled by developments in China and Brazil that alone contributed $15 billion in new sales in 2011, with a steady real term growth of 7.2 per cent continuing until 2017 when the magical figure of $1 trillion in sales is achieved.

(By Desmond Davies, London Bureau Chief) GNA

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