GIVING TUESDAY 2019: Impact Update & Vision Forward

At Amazi, our intention to give is inherent to our business model. We decided to use Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to hold ourselves accountable and share the ways in which we’ve worked to increase impact over the past several months, and how we hope to improve in the year to come.

If you’ve been following along on social media, you know that we’ve been taking some major steps behind the scenes to scale up. One of the main reasons for this decision was our ability to create a more direct impact and stand with integrity behind my initial mission.


We noticed that while we worked closely with our existing suppliers and farmers groups, we were missing a piece in the transparency puzzle, limited by the practices and capacities of another business. 


When I would go to connect with local farming communities on visits to Uganda, I found that they, too, were frustrated with the disconnects in the chain of communication. I found myself wanting to make promises that I knew I didn’t have control over (with regards to the pricing of raw materials or volumes, for example), and the farming communities craved a more committed partner. Beyond that, I knew our processors also struggled with trust issues at the farm level, with quality of fruit varying or prices changing. 


More and more, I found myself thinking about how we could further build out a direct line of impact across the entire production chain, one that is sustainable and inclusive - that cuts out much of the fragmentation that exists in today’s common sourcing practices, and encourages participation from production staff in the creative process, not just the manufacturing. 


With incredibly high rates of unemployment or underemployment, especially amidst the youth population in Uganda, my vision has always been to support teams committed to quality, creativity, and integrity that will allow them to market to a higher-potential market. Teams that are eager to learn about the tastes and preferences of the international market, that see the value of their local produce, the modern and marketable possibilities that lie within the agricultural sector, that may now seem antiquated. 

I knew we’d have to take matters into our own hands to create such a space, and with a push from a deal with our first national retailer, we took the leap. Over the past several months, I’m honored to say that we were able to find amazing Ugandan partners to help bring this to reality. 

**Taken during my last visit there in September**

Over the past few months, we’ve:

  • Built a state of the art ISO22000 standard facility in Zirobwe, Uganda. Final inspections for export certifications are currently underway!
  • Hired and Trained 13 Full-time Production Employees (75% of which are women, 90+% of which are youth)

    • Generated close to 70+ additional jobs in the sheer construction of the factory, bringing electricity and industry to Zirobwe, Uganda - an area previously cut off from any such opportunities
      • This includes 64+ Construction Team Members (all of which had been locals looking for work)
      • 5 Security Guards
      • Local caterers and growers cooking daily meals for the team 

    **Here’s a picture of my dad enjoying his factory lunch! We got a well-fed team, that’s for sure!**


    • In our initial trial runs, we’ve sourced from 90 farmers directly, and our network is growing daily. I’m proud to share that our farmer pay is 67% HIGHER than the market price

    Area

    Our price (Ushs/ kg)

    Market price (Ushs/ kg)

    Isingiro

    1,600

    960

    Ntungamo

    1,600

    960

    Rubirizi

    1,700

    960

     

    As we launch to a national grocer this month (*STAY TUNED FOR THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!*), we expect to reach the following over the next 6 months:

    • Sourcing 10,000KG of fresh fruit MONTHLY
    • Reach a network of at least 300 farmers
    • Double production staff size with 30+ full-time team members
    • Minimize waste as we hone in on optimal production volumes and streamline QC checks at farmgate 
    • Completion of housing built for production staff on-site

    Beyond that, I have BIG lofty goals for our impact over the next year and in the longer-term:

    • In 2020, I want to:
      • Publish our first full impact report, downloadable and inclusive of pay metrics, volumes, biographies of farmers and qualitative interviews on community impact
      • Track and share metrics no how we are able to minimize food waste through more direct lines of sourcing and production
      • Work toward getting funding for Organic certification and growing materials for our expanding network of farmers
      • Run at least 1-2 virtual trainings with production staff on Marketing & Selling in the US Market, covering trends, quality preferences, and more, so they can start to take ownership of their QC and specs
      • Share monthly check-ins in the form of biographies, interviews, and short videos where our team in Uganda can share more about themselves with you! 
      • Produce from start to finish in Uganda (including packaging!) to minimize double packaging use and increase job opportunities at the source
      • Commit to bi-monthly educational pieces on issues of unemployment and underemployment, or lack of economic sustainability in supply chains
    • In the next 2-5 years:
      • Find an environmentally sustainable packaging solution (that we can use without increasing the price to you!)
      • Employ and operate at full capacity with a staff of 150+ people
      • Source at least 60% of produce from woman farmers
      • Tap into additional value chains - why stop at Jackfruit and Plantains?!
      • Organize an international “exchange” program with some of my favorite mentors and people in the Biz - think video calls/webinars and Q&As between the UG team and professionals here.
      • A Ugandan team there dedicated to product innovation, who would be very much involved in helping me develop new lines, recipes, and production processes.

    Whether you know it or not, you play an integral role in helping us move forward. The more you choose to #SnackonPurpose, the more we can support our communities at the source. With that, we would love your active participation as we grow. 

    What else do you want to see us do? What impact metrics do you care about? We can’t wait to keep co-creating this vision with you. 

    With love and gratitude,
    Renee


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