Africa and Italy are a win-win match when it comes to business. If you don’t think so, then you can’t help reading SweetAfrica’s history.
SweetAfrica is an innovative Italian start-up founded in 2020, when its founders saw a potential in the field of dried fruits and nuts and came across E4Impact. They wanted to bring to the Italian consumers’ houses the original flavor of dried fruit and nuts and started carrying out some research to understand where and how to set up a business. Eventually they found out that, thanks to the climate and rich biodiversity of the land next to the equator, Kenya was the best option for them to take their fruits, as it allows to source the raw materials at the right level of ripeness all year around. At this point they “just” needed to build a supply chain with trustable suppliers.
Fortunately, the founders happened to have some connections with E4Impact, so they asked for help in finding the right suppliers among the wide network of E4Impact entrepreneurs. At this point, they started a collaboration with the BDA – Business Development Africa, the E4Impact team in charge of offering consulting services to Italian SMEs interested in exploring new business opportunities in the African continent. After a deep screening of the network, a few Kenyan companies involved in the acceleration program of E4Impact Accelerator in Nairobi stood among the others, among them there was Fruit and Motion Ltd.
As soon as the suppliers were chosen, the SweetAfrica team flew to Kenya to study and learn more on this world directly from the producers and, after a period of negotiation, the partnership was established. Once they got back home, they started a new journey with Prof. Pier Sandro Cocconcelli, pro-rector of the Department of Food Science and Technology for a Sustainable Agri-Food Supply Chain of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Together with Dr. Cocconcelli’s department they developed a new methodology to check on the quality during the processing, they managed to avoid chemicals preservatives and they implemented a laboratory for internal check and microbiological analysis. Moreover, a great study on nutritional values of dried fruit and nuts have allowed them to use very specific food claims and a blockchain matrix has been set up.
As time passed by, SweetAfrica realized they needed to expand. This implied getting more suppliers, so they began searching for new ones and started broadening their line of products. They went from selling only dried mango to sell coconut, papaya, pineapple, banana and a tropical mix. Later on, they also began selling cashew and macadamia.
As CEO Luca Locatelli explains, SweetAfrica’s expertise in food technology and its presence on the territory allow the company to offer a wide range of tropical dried fruit and nuts highly rich in nutrients, preserved throughout the drying process, paying attention to the supply chain and quality control. Indeed, SweetAfrica is working with a fully controlled supply chain, which guarantees the quality of their products. Everything from raw material to packaging (primary and secondary) is 100% Kenyan and sustainable, and a particular attention is given to paying a right salary to the peasants and the other workers.
From summer 2022, SweetAfrica will use the blockchain system to collect and track all processing stages: from the harvest to the transformation, from the logistics to self-inspection. This is possible thanks to the presence of an internal laboratory for quality check in Martignano (Lecce), which allows to keep track of food safety along the products’ shelf-life.
As for their future, they see the possibility of building a modern factory in Kilifi, expanding their horizons in terms of export. In fact, they’re currently only selling in 6 supermarket chains around Italy, but they’re planning to begin selling in Europe, USA, Canada and Kenya by the end of 2022.
This experience shows that not only it is possible to rethink the way in which European companies partners with the African ones, but it’s also beneficial for both of them when it’s done in the right way. Through collaboration, passion and commitment SweetAfrica has built a successful business model, and we’re sure there is much more to come.
Learn more about SweetAfrica
Facebook Page: Sweet Africa
Instagram Account: sweetafrica_