Calm but smart, young but proactive, the kind of person that climbs the stairs step by step. Aldred Ahougni DOGUE is a young entrepreneur from Benin. Born on April 1996 in Cotonou, Benin’s economic capital, spent part of his childhood in theDepartment of the Plateau, where he realizes the wealth that can be created from the agricultural sector and related fields.
Aldred, the emerging African-capitalist heads AFRICA FOODS MILL, a young company that participates in the development of agriculture and local agro-industry. The company buys raw agricultural materials produced locally at smallholder farmers’ cooperatives and transforms them into high quality finished food products.
They currently produce precooked vegetables (green beans, carrots, …) ready for consumption and distributes it to
supermarkets in the cities of Cotonou and Abomey-Calavi. AFRICA FOODS MILL through this activity enables the fifty or so small farmers with whom he works to limit their post-harvest losses, and thus increase their financial income. And at the same time, consumers have access to healthy products of good quality at affordable costs. As the quantities of raw materials produced on the continent are significant, Aldred thinks that the Africa’s agro-industrial sector needs to be revitalized.
Humble, discreet, armed with determination and resilience, Aldred received in 2017 at the House of Commerce and Industry of Benin the price of the “Best Business Plan Competition” initiated by the Young Benin International Chamber. The following year, the young entrepreneur is selected from among the 20 Younger African Entrepreneurs in the Prestigious Entrepreneurship Contest “The Anzisha prize” supported by the African Leadership Academy and the Mastercard foundation.
Aldred is also passionate about volunteering. Through his involvement in non-profit projects on education, gender equality, youth and entrepreneurship in community development, he acquires a good deal of knowledge.
I do not find, in fact, any frustrating aspect in my business. Of course, we encounter difficulties. But it is they that allow us to move forward. I think that
constraints are part of the evolution process to achieve success.
I started by sharing with family and friends, then gradually i went to supermarkets and various shops. Some have seen the value that my products
could bring them, dared to try them and adopted them. Others rejected them. I didn’t force anyone to it, the products convinced our customers themselves. Already, our target represents the middle and upper economic classes, which are often busy or in a hurry. Our products help consumers save time, since our products are ready for consumption.
It should be noted that before launching this business, I was used to the realities of the agricultural world. I have worked for a long time with small farmers. I knew their realities, and their real needs. All this allowed me to know how I could collaborate with them in order to create not only value to their business, but also value on the food consumption market.
Like any young company that wants to prosper, we also lack financial capital sometimes. We have managed to obtain so far a few thousand dollars from
mainly support platforms for start-ups. But our prospects for development on the long term are large (installation of a processing plant in
fruits and vegetables ; integration of the Nigerian market; and others) and we need a lot more financial resources. We will be happy to have, in a certain future, partnerships, collaboration with investment funds, venture capitalists, business angels.
The main challenge now is packaging. In Benin, real companies producing biodegradable food packaging is very hard to find and costly.
I’m proud of the fact that a businessman believed in me, in 2017, after I presented my business to a general public, he proposed to invest in my business. It was for me a sign of success. It made me realize that people believe in what I do.
Also, I am proud to have been selected among the 20 youngest African entrepreneurs for the 2018 edition of the Entrepreneurship Contest “The Anzisha prize”; especially being the first Beninese to obtain this distinction and to integrate this network of African entrepreneurs, already at its 8th
As lesson, there is discipline. Everyone works. But what makes some people successful and others unsuccessful, is the discipline that each of these categories of people whether or not they put in their work. It’s very hard to be disciplined and focused, but with a lot of exercise we get there.
Surrounding yourself with good people is also very important to success, not just in entrepreneurship, but in life. The people we meet, who we go to, have a immense influence on our mind first, but also on our choices. These people have an impact on all our companies, and on the results of our initiatives.
Be armed with resilience! You have to be full of courage to undertake a project in such a hostile environment like ours. And to advance in entrepreneurship you have to be mentally strong!
A food self-sufficient Africa, where everyone has access to three meals daily “complete”: it’s my dream. According to the African Development Bank, imported food on the African continent represents each year 35 billion dollars in foreign currency.
Africa is nevertheless rich because of its young population (70% of the African population has under 35 years) and its arable land estimated at 65% of all non-cultivated arable land in the world. I believe that by investing to unleash the potential of the African continent, my dream will become a reality. I believe that by 2050, Africa will be able to feed itself, but also feed the rest of the world. The task may not be easy to perform, but together we’ll get there.
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