Joachim Hodabalo AKATITO is a young agribusiness entrepreneur. He is among 15 young African entrepreneurs selected by African Bank of Development to attend a workshop in South Korea. Former beneficiary of Grain de Sel Togo Inc, Joachim has accepted to talk to us about his business.
Could you please us about what you do at BEKAK Group Sarl?
BEKAK Group is a small enterprise specialized in organic fruit and tomatoes concentrates. It was created on 12th Feburary 2016 currently employing three associates Mr. BEKOUNIM, Tchomela and Ms Akoua AWOUDJA and myself.
At BEKAK Group Sarl, we believe that there are many good job and opportunities in agriculture for the youth in Africa. Modernizing and indutrializing agriculture could greatly contribute to food security and job creation for the youth.
In term of food processing, BEKAK Group Sarl, has currently three products available in the local markets:
- TomaPast: organic concentrate juice of fresh tomatoes in jars and 110g and 450g.
- Confi-Natu: organic and delicious fresh fruit jams made from locally available fruits such as pineapple, mangos, papayas, bottled in glass jars 110g, 350g and 450g.
- Citrus Sirop: organic lemon syrup served with local dishes in bottle of 1 liter. Many of our customers use it to make cocktails, mixing it with Whisky or beers and others drinks.
Our clients appreciate our products because they are organic, locally available, safe and healthy.
Our vision is to become one of the leaders in fruits and vegetables processing in West Africa by creating more jobs and opportunities in Africa,
Could you tell us about what motivated you to create BEKAK Group Sarl ?
In 2013, during our academic field trip to Vogan (South Togo), I saw farmers throwing out their tomatoes by the sides of the road simply due to unremunerated or unreasonable prices or lack of clients in the local markets. The volume of rotten tomatoes due to post-harvest food waste was also very upsetting to me. I felt moved by this worrying food waste and farmers’ debt. From that experience, I decided to do something about it and here we are.
You are among these 15 young African agribusiness entrepreneurs selected by the African Development Bank to attend training workshop in South Korea. What were the qualifying criteria for your selection?
One of the top priorities of African Development Bank « High 5’’ program is to transform Africa by 2025 into ‘’Nourrir l’Afrique’’ (Feed Africa). To achieve this goal, AFD decided to involve small business enterprises by enabling them to develop sustainable solutions that can contribute to boost food security and job creation for all Africans.
BEKAK Group Sarl has been selected for two reasons:
1- BEKAK Group fits with their program;
2- Our products exemplify agricultural Food Value Chain.
African Development bank is looking for SMEs that are adding values to agricultural products in order to evaluate their scalability. Additionally, SMEs are selected based on their technical and financial needs for their growth.
As far as I’m concerned, I can say that AfD is looking for young Africans who want to invest and develop Africa. I love Africa and hope to see Africa’s economy booming in few years to come. It is important to note that there was no call for application; we were simply invited based on our promising profiles.
What do you expect to gain from this training?
I want to learn a lot from South Korean: the driving powers behind their Food Value Chain and how booming is their economy. Despite the severe food deficit in early 1960 South Korea has become a food secured country just ten years later. South Korean has invested a lot in manufacturing and food industries, importing raw crops from African (ex: coffee) for their food processing plants. Research and development has also contributed to agricultural innovations. Rural areas have access to the electricity, technologies and improved transportation systems.
I am very impressed by how South Korea managed to overcome and I am interested in learning more about their experience during this 10-workship (January 14 to 24, 2019) at Green Bio-Sciences and Technology and Seoul National University. I’m sure this training could change our perspectives, growth plan, methodologies, equipment, production, etc. May be this could lead to more investment in exports.
You have been awarded Grain de Sel Togo, Inc. scholarship, what advices would you give to students about this program?
Grain de Sel Togo Inc scholarship is unique because it sets grantees apart from their peers and train them to to become excellent and successful. Grain De Sel Togo Inc (GDS) instills high standard performances in its grantees. GDS has helped me to challenge myself, go the extra mile by surpassing my limits and craving for excellence in everything I do. I know that every young fellow wants to become a leader in their communities regardless of their field of expertise. But to grow socially and professionally, one must develop personal qualities and attitudes for career success.
My scholarship award from Grain De Sel Togo Inc was a game changing event in my life because I badly needed help (financial, professional, technical, etc.). to complete my bachelor at the Unviersity of Lomé. This organization has transformed my life, my perspectives and my career. Current and future beneficiaries of Grain de Sel Togo, Inc should take this program seriously because it is the best mentorship program I ever know.
Even though the selection process is very rigorous, it is not impossible because students who qualified will be selected. I would encourage those in need to get prepared and apply whenever the call for application is open. That was simply how I began my adventure. Special thanks to Mr. Brad K Hounkpati, the Founding Director of Grain de Sel Togo, Inc for his great leadership and mentorship, and supports.
Where can we find or buy BEKAK Group Sarl’s products?
For the moment, only in Togo at the following local stores and supermarkets : Made In Togo, Maison de Noni, Togosimé, BoBaR de OADEL, La Vitrine des produits locaux and many others .
People can also contact us well, depending on their needs.
Any message for our audience?
When organizations like African Development Bank and Grain de Sel Togo Inc trust and invest their resources in the personal and professional development in the youth, they certainly expect them to become great community leaders and to impact the world around them. And that’s what I would like to do in return for my country and continent. May God help to fulfill this ambition and bless those who helped to become who I am today.