As we begin a new year, I have been reflecting so much on 2022 and I am very optimistic that 2023 will come with some gain realization.
I have been traveling around major cities in America since November and meeting with buyers of commodities such as Hibiscus flower, Ginger and Moringa. Cities around the world have melting pots, and there are several foods you find in cities like New York that can be traced to other cultures. New York is a warm, friendly and culturally diverse city. The cultural diversity in New York is so common that you can notice it just by walking around. From the food to the clothing stores, you will be sure to see people of different ethnic backgrounds. As a result of more than 400 years of immigrant history, America has become the richest gastronomy in the world. From every immigrant culture came new foods and new ways to cook it, all the while maintaining a revered connection to the way it was done back in the old country.
It is somewhat different for West African cuisines, if you want to grab cup of Kunu (is a non-alcoholic Nigerian beverage) or a plate of Jollof rice you will have to walk into an African restaurant. How do we introduce West African flavors to a wider palate? One way is to incorporate them into everyday foods through West African-style simmer sauces, spices, seasonings, herbs and whole foods.
This year, I will be working with small scale food processors who are not recycling the same set of flavors consumers have been having for a hundred years. Something exciting, bold, providing a new experience, and redefining what is made in Africa. While I am pushing for trade in more processed commodities, I will continue trading raw commodities and supporting startups in their market expansion and fundraising drive. I closed 2022 with contracts to be fulfilled in the first quarter of this year. I am lucky and blessed to have a network of great suppliers in Nigeria, Ghana and Benin but access to trade finance and compliance remains a huge challenge. Despite a string of financial crises and steepness in the global economy, there has been a lot of success in the fundraising drive for Africa in the last quarter of 2022.
- In November, the IFC launched a new $225 million platform to strengthen venture capital ecosystems and invest in early-stage companies addressing development challenges through technological innovations in climate, health care, education, agriculture, e-commerce, and other sectors in Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, and Pakistan.
- In December, ADF, the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group, providing grants and soft loans to the continent’s low-income countries agreed to commit a total package of $8.9 billion to its 2023 to 2025 financing cycle. It is a strong endorsement of the African Development Fund and its impact in tackling the continent’s multiple development needs, including recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the effects of climate change, fragility, debt, and economic vulnerabilities.
- Also in December, Ventures Platform Fund a pan-African VC firm championing the next generation of African technology entrepreneurs, announced the final close of its early-stage and intercontinental fund, at $46M.
I am optimistic that the fund will trickle down to the entrepreneurs working at the grassroot to support farmers. Smallholder farmers are the foundation for food security, any technology that doesn’t get to them only enriches the wealthy and increases the wealth-poverty gap.
Wishing you a happy new year filled with positivity, love and happiness.