We caught up with our Gambian Entrepreneur, Momar Taal, CEO of Tropingo Foods. Our entrepreneur is focused on the agricultural sector in his country where he grows Mangoes and Groundnuts. He is also into the production of dried Mango snacks. Read more about our entrepreneur.
TEF: How did you get your idea for your business?
Momar Taal: Whilst studying the agricultural landscape in my country, Gambia, I noticed a serious level of inactivity in the value addition of our local produce. This meant that the majority of the crops would make it to market without much value added or in the case of mango, the majority of the crop would rot. To me this was a problem that needed to be solved and presented me with a opportunity to do business. I set about finding ways to add value in a cost effective way, use this business to create a sustainable market for farmers and increase the value of the crops we produce and create jobs. Today Tropingo Foods hires 100+ people seasonally.
TEF: How has participating in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme helped your business and you as a person?
MT: The Programme has allowed me to further scrutinize my business idea and internal processes. I was able to get the right training needed to implement certain best business practices in the management of my business. TEEP also gave me the platform and credibility across the continent as well as access to a network of budding young entrepreneurs who I am glad to say I am still in contact and have even done business with today.
TEF: What is unique about your business?
MT: My business is the first of its kind in Gambia- Our mango processing factory which will be commissioned in 2016 is the first of its kind facility in our country. The products we offer allow our consumers to enjoy healthy fruit snacks outside of the harvest season, making us the only company able to supply the local demand outside of the mango season. Our business is easily scaled and can apply the same methodology to other crops.
TEF: What are your company’s goals?
MT: Our immediate Goal is to export our mango products to larger markets across the Sub region and EU expand processing capacity & establish processing facilities in other African countries with similar conditions. Ultimately we want to be a market leader locally and a cross the continent for fruits and nuts.
TEF: How does your company help the community where it is located?
MT: Our company affects the lives of countless individuals who interact with our supply chain. Tropingo Foods hires 100+ women for groundnut processing who all live in the community around our processing facility. In addition we have strategic buying points in located near groundnut growing areas, these buying points provide a sustainable market for local farmers to sell their produce at a better price than selling to agents. This increases the household income of farmers. Also benefiting from our trade are all the logistics companies, to agents who earn a living supplying Tropingo Foods. With the commissioning of the mango processing facility, Tropingo Foods has also managed to revive dormant mango farms who have been unable to secure a market for their produce over the years and have suffered greatly from crop loss.
TEF: How has TEF and its programmes impacted your career and life in general?
MT: Because of the Foundation, I was given the tools needed to manage my company responsibly. My business grew rapidly after my experience, faster than I ever imagined. Aside from what I learned, I was given exposure and credibility through the Foundation and from this Forbes Africa learned of my story and named me on their 30 under 30 list of entrepreneurs in Africa. In the same breath I was also nominated by Future Africa Awards as agriculture entrepreneur of the year. Both of these recognition came from outside my home country and I credit the Foundation for this exposure.
TEF: How do you rate the quality of the networking/collaborations that have come from being involved in this programme?
MT: The program is the only platform I know of that exists where 1000 entrepreneurs from all across the continent can network, learn and share ideas. Some of these relationships transcend into business transactions and opportunity for yourself and other Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs. I am actively engaging with fellow alumni and some have been extremely instrumental in helping me navigate the business terrain in their countries as we study the markets we wish to enter in the near future.
TEF: What’s your advice for intending participants in the programme?
MT: Go for it, have confidence in your ability and the value you have as an entrepreneur, however be humble and remember that you are going to learn from the best. Most importantly enjoy the ride.