A couple of years ago farmers from the village of Nkhotakota in Malawi were struggling to make a living from growing cassava, and previous interventions were not suitable to their needs. This also left the processors of cassava based products disillusioned and disgruntled.
When the C:AVA Project started working with the group at the end of 2009, the entrepreneurs were able to start processing seriously. C:AVA's approach was radically different in that the focus was on rural markets, rather than the 'big city' manufacturers. C:AVA emphasised to the processors that the market for HQCF is with rural bakers and manadazi makers who use wheat flour.
Mr Adonne Chisi is an entrepreneur with a difference. He is one of the four entrepreneur processors in the Nkhotakota district who is processing HQCF, and he works for the Ministry of Health as Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Nkhotakota District Assembly.
After the initial end user trials were conducted in his district, Adonne took the initiative to buy airtime on a local community radio and started to advertise the potential for HQCF as a partial substitute for wheat flour in mandazi and scones. He received numerous calls from all over the district and surrounding districts of Ntchisi and Salima, inquiring about HQCF.
He subsequently decided to convert his hardware shop in Nkhotakota, into an HQCF Shop, the first in the area. The shop sells on average 100 Kgs of HQCF per week which translates to K1,000 ($6), in a country where the majority of the rural people survive on less than one dollar a day. He is making over K4,000 a month when the minimum wage is about K2,500.
Adonne introduced mandazi made from composite flour of wheat and HQCF to the Nkhotakota Secondary School. The Chisi family baked mandazi products on daily basis to meet demand as the product was not only sold to students, but also to others who passed through the school campus. Since they started this initiative, sales have increased steadily and on average 50kgs of HQCF is now used per week.
After attending the C:AVA marketing training, Adonne decided to negotiate with the larger trading centres surrounding his processing site, to persuade them of the benefits of selling HQCF. He has also opened a factory shop at the processing site to service customers/shop owners from surrounding areas. "My vision is that HQCF must become the product of choice by all manadazi and scone bakers in Nkhotakota" says Adonne. Sales for HQCF have been just over 500 kg/week in these trading centres, and with wheat flour prices going up, he is now selling HQCF at K100/Kg, K20/Kg more than previously.
Adonne demonstrates what initiative and innovation coupled with entrepreneurship can achieve. Considering that HQCF is a new product in Malawi, the strategies that Adonne has employed in raising awareness and penetrating the market are without contest. He can be considered as one of the most successful rural processors around and the strategy he has employed is also being scaled up with other processing groups and entrepreneurs in Malawi to fast track sales of HQCF.