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Empowering Africa’s Economy: Africa Goodnest’s Strategies for Distributing African Consumer Packaged Goods

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One of Africa Goodnest’s first sales of the year to a natural, organic retailer in Maryland, United States highlighted a few of the challenges we contend with as an Africa-based start-up company. Sometimes, when working in Africa to solve one problem, we run into a few more. These we then have to address in order to get to the crux of why we started.

Africa Goodnest is a business-to-business, wholesale and logistics service bringing made-in-Africa consumer packaged goods to market. All of the suppliers with whom we work are registered, African businesses with products certified by regulatory authorities for consumption and export. These brands are fiercely African, sustainably sourced, and working to create jobs and bring income into their communities. The existence and operation of these businesses is helping to change the narrative of Africa being a continent that only exports raw commodities that are then finished elsewhere and sold around the world, including back to Africa. Africa can add value here.

We export finished goods. It is an uncomfortable truth that exporting raw commodities that are then packaged and finished outside of their country of origin, is cheaper. However, the origin story of these goods, as well as their income, gets diverted. I often use the example of chocolate. Whereas 60% of the world’s cocoa is produced in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, much of the world thinks it comes from Europe. Belgium, France or the United States are the countries that add value to raw cocoa turning it into chocolate and so cocoa farmers continue to scratch out a living in their villages. To counter this, importing branded, finished value-added goods from the countries that actually produce them creates jobs, builds local economies and industries, and adds authenticity and identity to the story of the product.

We manage the shipping process. The price of logistics ascended during Covid. As a result, it makes more sense for African brands to ship more units to stores and distributors rather than direct to individual consumers. Doing business in this way also opens us up to working across the African continent because we do not have to hold brands’ inventory, which for the small businesses with whom we work, is their capital. We also negotiated with our shipping company for multiple shipping options so that pricing is not an impediment to buyers. Africa Goodnest manages and follows the entire shipping process, from any African country, to ensure it gets to its final destination.

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We help finance suppliers. The micro or small businesses with whom we work are burgeoning brands that are ready to do business. They should not be limited by their resources and so Africa Goodnest partnered with a microfinancing organization that provides low-interest purchase order financing of up to $5,000 for suppliers in Ghana. This will allow suppliers to meet demands without jeopardizing their assets.

We support Africa’s growing economy. The majority of Africa’s economy is powered by agriculture, up to 70% in some countries. In 2020, Africa exported over $31 billion in raw commodities in consumables. These are the raw goods that get turned into the food and beverages, health and beauty, and herbs and spices that our brands are already making. So what could this $31 billion figure look like if we worked with finished goods? Or if we were exporting into other African countries by taking advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The businesses with whom we work, positively exploit one of our continent’s greatest resources and we are here to help them grow.

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