When farmers move beyond subsistence agriculture to produce surpluses, local economies experience an infusion of capital that, in turn, leads to the development of small enterprises, the formation of new markets and the injection into cash-starved economies. However, there are often major obstacles to sustaining such growth, including: the seasonal nature of agriculture, limited access to finance to purchase quality farming inputs; limited access to knowledge on good agricultural practices and appropriate technologies and limited assured market access.
To address these issues, Frigoken Limited (FKL), a project company of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), endeavourers to forge a better future for Kenya’s rural small scale farmers. Rather than cultivating on company owned or contracted large scale farms, Frigoken engages directly with small scale farmers to produce various agricultural produce, including green beans.
Frigoken provides farmers with a range of services, including price guarantees; assured market; provision of highest certified quality inputs; agricultural extension services at no cost to the farmer; amongst others. By processing throughout the year (rather than only when there is demand during European winters as in fresh export), Frigoken provides a steady income to farmers, most of whom have plots less than 2 acres on which they typically cultivate produce for FKL on around 200 square metres.
Today, Frigoken is the largest exporter of processed green beans from Kenya, supplying niche products to leading European supermarket chains. The company currently provides direct employment to over 3,000 people, most of whom are women, and supports around 100,000 small scale farmers in rural areas of Kenya.
Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), AKFED’s operating arm in the industrial sector, currently invests in over 50 companies in the developing world. IPS companies are involved in various sectors including printing and packaging, agro-industry and foods, leather, specialised textiles and infrastructure, including power generation and telecommunications