ZAMBIA – Sage Valley, Zambia based spices and pastes processing startup has clinched a K250,000 revolving working capital facility from the Empress Fund, managed by Africa Trust Group (ATG) based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Sage Valley was established in October 2019 and recently has availed its products in a number of Shoprite stores thus the funds acquired will be channelled towards increasing their production capacity and meeting increased demand for their products, reports Zambia Chamber.

“Our products recently got listed in a number of Shoprite stores and this facility came at the right time to enable us to meet the increase in demand for our product.

“It is especially exciting for us as a young business to get this facility during this pandemic when many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat,” says CEO and co-founder Zita Kafwimbi.

In addition to being listed in Shoprite, Sage Valley spices are also available in Melissa Supermarkets with plans for listing into more stores nationwide.

“This is a big boost for our business and encourages us to keep going as young entrepreneurs. For us, this is a vote of confidence in the work we have put into building a great brand and range of products,” says Nancy Kafwimbi, COO and co-founder.

The Empress Fund was established by a syndicate group of high net worth individuals from across the African continent and diaspora, to invest in the growth of women-owned businesses SADC.

Regional chairperson of the investor group, Faith Mukutu said, “It is important for us as investors to be increasingly innovative in the financing vehicles we employ to support women’s businesses.

According to Mukutu, access to finance for women entrepreneurs on the continent is still a challenge with prohibitive terms and conditions that prevent their growth.

“As an investor group, providing different types of financing for the differing business needs is what sets us apart. We also strongly believe locally produced goods are best for Zambia and should be prioritized over imports,” she added.

“Businesses like Sage Valley Spices are particularly attractive to us as they have the potential to create extensive value chains that support other women-owned businesses,” said Lelemba Phiri, Principal at ATG.

“There is a huge scope for a business like this to support small scale farmers on the one side of the chain for example and packaging businesses on the other side and so investing in it creates several economic ripple effects,” concluded Lelemba.

In other related news, the Green Agribusiness Fund has been launched in Nigeria and Rwanda targeting to nurture the next generation of agrarian leaders in Africa and ensure food security of the continent.

According to reports by This Day, the pilot phase of the US$30,000 fund would invest in youth and agribusiness. It is spearheaded by JR Farms in collaboration with Generation Africa and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Six youths drawn from Nigeria and Rwanda would be provided an equity funding of US$5,000 each in support of peculiar business needs including machines, packaging materials and raw material when the selection process commences in the middle of the month.

The CEO JR Farms, Rotimi Olawale, said the motive behind the initiative is to address one of the main challenges mitigating youth from productive involvement in agriculture in Africa, including limited access to finance and business mentorship.

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