TANZANIA – YYTZ, a Tanzanian cashew processor has closed its extended series seed funding totalling US$1.3m that was running in 2020 and 2021.
The round saw participation of Global Partnerships/Eleos Social Venture Fund, Segal Family Foundation and existing investors HRSV and FINCA Ventures.
In addition to the fund raising, YYTZ also clinched a working capital facility from the Rabobank Foundation.
The capital raised is aimed to accelerate YYTZ’s investment into packaging and storage infrastructure in Zanzibar, as well as the development of more product SKUs and onboarding of new regional and international customers.
“With the disruption of traditional supply chains and rising shipping costs, it is now the best time for Africa to process its own cashews; shortening lead times while reducing the shipping cost and carbon footprint and creating more value at origin,” said Fahad, founder and chief cashew officer of YYTZ.
According to the nuts and dried fruits statistical year book 2021, global cashew production in totalled 836,940 metric tons on kernel basis, with Tanzania leading the East African region with output of 48,400 MT.
YYTZ was founded in 2016 by Fahad Awadh and his father after they saw a large opportunity to increase the local processing capacity for cashews, 90 percent of which had historically been exported from Tanzania raw in the shell at low prices.
To ensure that more value reaches the farming communities where cashews are grown, the company sources semi-processed cashews from women’s cooperatives in southern Tanzania.
After procurement, they bring the cashews to Zanzibar to process them into a variety of retail-ready products, including roasted cashews and cashew butter, for the East African as well as international market under YYTZ’s consumer brand, More Than Cashews.
More Than Cashews is now the fastest growing cashew brand in East Africa, being sold across 90 different outlets in Kenya, including Naivas and Chandarana, in addition to 70 in Tanzania and Zanzibar.
The product is also available through Amazon in the UK and through a new partnership with Rutasoka to serve the Nordic market.
More than Cashews has also secured a listing with Whole Foods in Canada, where its products will be available later this year.
YYTZ sets itself apart as a trail blazer in Tanzania's cashew sector
YYTZ is focused on innovation with cashew by-products and has started working with CashewMeetly in Sweden to produce a plant-based meat using the cashew apple, helping to provide additional income for farmers.
The company is also introducing mechanization at the community level through its community processing model that will help to increase value addition and access to markets for thousands of smallholder cashew farmers.
Through its sourcing activities, they are dedicated to paying farmers fair prices while bringing awareness to the quality of Tanzanian cashews both regionally and internationally.
In 2021, the company sourced from over 1,037 farmers, providing smallholder farmers with consistent market access and higher prices (2x that of other aggregators).
YYTZ is also the first company to implement a blockchain traceability system for its cashews, each retail pack of its More than Cashews brand includes a QR code that can be scanned to see which farmer grew the cashews found in that pack.