It is not every day you hear that a young African businessman was able to raise $500,000 to expand his business. It is even rarer still if that African is just 29 and comes from the East African country of Tanzania. Fahad Awadh is one of the rare breeds of Africans, who at a young age, are showing there is more to Africa than bad news like wars and conflicts.
Fahad Awadh is ambitious. And you can call him young and restless. It is definitely an ambitious young and restless man that would plunge into the precarious world of business at an age his peers are still confused about what they really want.
You would be mistaken to think his ambition is just about power and making tons of money. Tons of money definitely. But also, he wanted to leave a legacy in his country Tanzania.
And what better place to do it than setting up a cashew nuts processing plant in Tanzania. He called the plant YYTZ Agro-processing.
Meet Fahad Awadh
He was born in 1987. His early childhood was in Bahrain where he attended primary school at a British Private school known as St. Christopher.
At the age of 10, his family moved to Canada with him in tow, where one year later, he was admitted to an International Business and Technology program.
So you could say his hunger for business started at a very tender age. And the time at the program was not wasted. He was exposed to the theoretical and practical tools modern entrepreneurs needed to succeed.
He continued his business-related training at York University, Toronto, where he studied Business Marketing.
The entrepreneurial spirit in Fahad shone brightly even while studying. By the time he went back to his country in Africa, he had already ventured into the business of selling custom-made t-shirts.
With two friends, he established a clothing line called Malyka Clothing. He even had to travel all the way to Bangladesh to secure a deal with a factory to make the t-shirt for his clothing business.
Orders for his products were coming from countries like the Bahamas and Gambia.
Venturing into the Agro-processing industry
His dream had always being to set up a business in his country.
So when he first visited Tanzania in 2012, he set about exploring opportunities where he could make a difference. He traveled extensively throughout the country meeting with local farmers.
This was a deliberate strategy so as to talk to people who grew crops, the farmers. He decided to invest in the processing of cashew nuts.
In this niche, there was a link that was missing: adding value to the raw product before moving them on to the export market.
To be fair though, this was a no-brainer. Tanzania is one of the biggest producers of cashew nuts in the world. But only the raw cashew nuts were exported to be processed abroad.
Foreign processing plants made far more money than the farmers in Tanzania.
The biggest challenge was to get enough buyers for his products. And that was where his training in university served him well. He met with and discussed with several European buyers.
His first export deal was with a company in Holland.
Learning from the best
However, before closing deals with the Europeans, he had to travel to Vietnam to learn some important aspects of cashew nut processing.
Why Vietnam? Because they were the biggest producers and exporters of processed cashew nuts in the world. He learned modern manufacturing methods including best business practices.
After his internship, he met with and bought cashew nut processing machinery from Vietnamese manufacturers.
Basically, he did not miss a trick. He picked the brains of the best; because he knew how important that was if you want to become a successful entrepreneur.
Settling down to business
For Fahad Awadh, getting the $500,000 grant from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund would enable him to implement a crucial part of his plan. He intends to build another factory in Mtwara where most of the country’s cashew nut farmers are based.
With this new factory, YYTZ Agro-Processing can now assure the farmers of a ready and willing buyer for their nuts. Apart from that, extension services would be provided to the farmers to improve their productivity.
The most important part of this venture is the fact that YYTZ Agro-processing would put far more money into the pockets of the farmers. And at the same time providing more jobs for the people of the area.
His short term plan is all about increasing the output of his two plants. He is targeting 10,000 tons of processed cashew nuts in the next five years.
Before that time though, it is very likely he would open up more plants. That is what you’d expect from a bold, restless and ambitious young man who enjoys creating wealth.