Focus on OPIC’s American business partners: How a Michigan business is helping African farmers improve yields
On International Women’s Day, we feature Dawn Hines, who co-founded Aventura Investment Partners, an OPIC partner that provides Africa’s smallholder farmers, many of them women, with equipment and other value chain services to help them improve yields and expand production.
Aventura, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has worked with thousands of small farmers in Senegal, helping many of them double production by accessing critical equipment such as tractors, combine harvesters and cold storage facilities.
“In the U.S. and Europe, there are a lot of small farmers but they have better value chains,” explained Hines. “This value chain doesn’t exist in most of west Africa. We believe this is why so many smallholder farmers are remaining in poverty.”
Hines, a former venture capitalist and investment banker, formed Aventura in 2010 after she saw “a gap in financing and management expertise” while visiting Senegal. Aventura was conceived as a business that would improve the agricultural value chain so farmers could produce larger quantities of food and earn more income.
While agriculture is central to the economy of Senegal and is the country’s main source of employment, most of the farmers who produce crops like rice, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, mangos and cashews are poor, living on less than $2,000 per year. Working on small parcels of land that are often less than four acres, they often lack modern equipment or even basic tractors, and have no structured system for storing and transporting food.
In just one example of the benefits of a strong value chain, mango farmers worked with Aventura to process their harvests in packing and cold storage facilities, which helped them dramatically increase sale prices from three cents per kilo to between 15 and 20 cents.
Aventura is using OPIC financing to expand its services and reach. Read more about Dawn Hines and Aventura here.