ZAMBIA – Yalelo Limited, one of the leading fish aquaculture companies in Zambia, has secured a US$10.5 million funding from Dutch development bank FMO, to increase its production capacity.

Adam Taylor, the chief executive of FirstWave Group, Yalelo’s parent company, said that the funding will not only enable the firm to more than double its production capacity but also expand its processing and retail footprint.

He highlighted that the expansion will involve developing a wide range of scalable systems which will include increasing the hatchery ponds and production pens to double production among several other wide range of functions.

Adam said that under the expansion plan, the firm will also increase its staff capacity, secure additional fishing vessels, trucks, warehouses and establish more retail shops.

“Developing scalable systems such that we can do that in a controlled manner has been a significant area of investment over the last 18 months,” he said.

Currently, the Lake Kariba-based firm produces and sells just over 1,000 metric tons of tilapia per month which Taylor said the funding will enable the firm double its sales.

He said that under the firm’s ambitious growth strategy, Yalelo should be able to grow sales by around 7,000t per year, and lift sales in 2019 to 1,600t per month.

“There are a lot of things that were simple with a handful of retail shops, however now that we operate 50 shops, growing towards 100, it is a sizeable business in itself and one of the larger cold-chain footprints in East Africa.

“There are many factors in operating a successful retail chain in such a challenging environment, from data analytics to operations auditing. But additional processing is an important focus for us this year.

“We see an opportunity to leverage our existing distribution to the 40 fresh fish supermarket concessions we operate to also include frozen retail packaged products, such as gutted and scaled family packs,” he said.

“Frozen product can also be distributed into additional third-party retail locations which, unlike fresh fish, does not require full-time merchandizers at each location.”

He said that the firm will be investing in gutting, scaling, filleting, and consumer packaging for formal trade across the region to add to the frozen products as it continues to explore a wider export market reports Lusaka Times.

“Zambia will naturally continue to be Yalelo Zambia’s primary market, but there are some great opportunities in cities in other countries to attract higher-margin sales,” said Taylor.