Strawberries are a popular and versatile product that can be grown the world-over. Yet only four of the 54 countries across Africa produce them. With global demand growing, the founders of FraiSen spotted an opportunity for a new strawberry farming business in Senegal to both stimulate the local market and tap into overseas demand.
Taking part in the Senegal Start-Up Accelerator – the KIC program in Senegal – Fraisen were encouraged to look into the market in more detail, and think creatively about their business proposition. They found that strawberries were viewed as a luxury product in the local market, and a successful business would therefore not only need to increase strawberry growing capacity, but also change perceptions amongst consumers that strawberries were a viable product for them to consider.
With the KIC’s support in conducting market research and providing access to mentors to help the business establish the most viable ‘go-to-market’ idea, the team decided that rather than FraiSen running farms itself, the business would become a facilitator, bringing together a network of smallholder strawberry farmers to help them grow and become more profitable. They decided they would focus on organic strawberries, using technology and systems to ensure they were available at competitive prices locally and internationally. Crucially, they would invest in marketing and distribution to drive local consumers to consider purchasing strawberries at newly affordable prices.
The KIC was able to introduce the team to the DER – La Délégation Générale à l’Entreprenariat Rapide – the Senegalese government’s fund for entrepreneurialism. Supplementing the funding that the KIC was able to provide for FraiSen itself to scale up operations, the DER was able to provide a dedicated seed-funding pot for each new smallholder strawberry farmer willing to join the FraiSen network. With the added financial incentive for farmers to join the network, FraiSen was literally in business.
Where they are today
Having recently completed the KIC program, FraiSen has already secured production partners in eight countries across Africa, seven distribution partners in Senegal, and total orders in nine countries of over ten tonnes of strawberries each week.