Meat Every Day: How a Rwandan Entrepreneur Aims to Satisfy Africa’s Changing Appetites
Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies on earth. One of the pillars of that growth is the effort the Rwandan government has put into boosting agriculture. According to a 2012 report, the agriculture sector accounts for 32 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, with the livestock industry alone accounting for 12 percent. Due to its size and reach, the government views it as one of the key sectors for poverty reduction.
But to feed a growing population with shifting tastes and food consumption habits, the agriculture industry will need to evolve in the coming decades. Some predict that, by the end of the century, 13 African cities will surpass New York City in population. And as African economies grow and their citizens become more urbanized, they are likely to increase their standards of living and meat consumption. This evolution is already underway, as demand for meat and milk is growing faster in developing countries than in more developed markets. These emerging consumers want more animal-based foods, and this shift will dramatically reshape the agriculture industry in countries like Rwanda.
Developing the Supply Chain
I saw this change coming four years ago and, to meet this growing need, I founded Paniel Meat Processing (PMP). The business sells sausages, meatballs and burgers in Kigali, Rubavu, Huye, Musanze and Rusizi, and as of 2018, we’ve begun exporting into neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other central African countries. It’s a nice, growing business, but the problem with growing sales is finding enough quality meat in the country to keep our urban customers happy while meeting government standards for meat products.
To address this issue, I doubled down on entrepreneurship two years ago and started Livestock Bank, a social enterprise that serves two related purposes. The first is to supply PMP with quality meat, and the second is to grow the incomes of Rwandan farmers. This not only benefits the farmers, it benefits PMP, as it helps them afford to buy our products. People used to think meat was only for rich people: We are trying to show that everyone can eat meat, any time they want to.
A Win-Win Approach to Livestock Production
Livestock Bank takes a unique approach to this goal: We provide free young pigs, goats, sheep and rabbits to farmers, who raise them with our support. Then we buy back the meat they produce. We ensure that animals’ production expenses are covered; including the cost of feed, water, medical/veterinary services, and everything else farmers need to grow healthy animals. When they have a litter, the young animals are spread to new farms, growing the network. When an animal is market-ready, it’s sold at a market price to PMP, with the proceeds shared with the host farmer – minus the feed, veterinary and other production costs, which are returned to Livestock Bank. Livestock Bank also receives 40 percent of the sale price, which sustains the business and allows us to reach new farmers.
Our goal is to reach tens of thousands of Rwandan farmers, training and teaching them to grow livestock as a career, while earning them some extra income. Livestock Bank also connects farmers with other services they may need to improve their well being, facilitating their access to products like biogas systems for their homes, and microloans for education and construction. We plan to expand our efforts beyond Rwanda soon, tapping into other African countries to help them develop their supply chains and enable PMP’s growth into other continental markets. The first countries we’ll target are Benin, Kenya, DRC and Malawi.
Soon, I plan to introduce a new product through PMP called “Akaboga,” a pre-packaged meat and vegetable meal that will be affordable to Livestock Bank farmers and other meat consumers living in slums and rural areas. The product does not need refrigeration, and it contains balanced proteins to help people – especially children and pregnant women – improve their diets.
Through these two interrelated businesses, we aim to help Rwanda remain one of the fastest growing economies on earth, with a better-fed population ready to make the leap from an emerging to a developed country.
Herve Tuyishime is the founder Paniel Meat Processing and the Livestock Bank.
Photo of Herve Tuyishime with an employee of Paniel Meat Processing, demonstrating how sausage is made, courtesy of Tuyishime