By Julius Bizimungu
Minimex Limited, one of Rwanda’s leading producers of maize products, yesterday received an investment worth US$3 million from AgDevCo, a UK-based social impact investor backed by UK Aid.
AgDevCo announced its latest investment in Minimex during the visit of Harriett Baldwin, UK Minister of State for Africa, who is in Rwanda to represent her country at the 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Baldwin was accompanied by Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Geraldine Mukeshimana.
Minimex is a family-owned maize milling company and one of the most technologically advanced mill in the country with the capacity to produce over 40,000 tonnes per annum.
It produces fortified maize flour, grits and bran which are sold in the East Africa region.
While the company has a strong focus on food quality, safety and nutrition, it has not been able to produce at its full capacity.
The investment received from the UK Government entity will drive the company’s production capacity, company officials said on Saturday in Kigali.
“The investment will significantly benefit maize farmers, livestock owners, consumers and the Rwandan economy by increasing production of fortified flour and high quality animal feeds,” Félicien Mutalikanwa, Minimex’s Chairman said.
Mutalikanwa told the press that the company has been producing at only 40 per cent of its capacity, highlighting that the investment will enable them go up to 55 per cent this year alone.
The investment will allow the family-owned business to increase in the next three years and ramp up purchases from tens of thousands of maize farmers across the country.
“In the next year, we hope to be producing at 65 per cent of the factory capacity and at 80 per cent in the next three years. We intend to buy more maize from local farmers and ensure that we don’t face stock challenges as it has been previously,” Mutalikanwa noted.
Currently, Minimex works with more than 10,000 maize farmers across the country, of which 60 per cent are women.
The company’s increased demand for quality grain is also expected to drive further investment along the value chain in post-harvest handling, storage and logistics.
The investment in Minimex was supported through UK Aid’s IMSAR programme also called Noza Isoko, which is helping improve market systems for agriculture in the country.
According to Christopher Isaac, AgDevCo Managing Director, this is their third investment in the country and they have higher expectations with the backup.
“We are delighted to back Minimex, an innovator in food safety and nutrition. Minimex drives impact at both ends of the supply chain, buying maize from smallholder farmers and selling fortified flour to its customers,” he said.
He added that they see Minimex along with Uzima and Kigali Farms, in which they have invested, making more impact for the country’s economy.
Collectively, AgDevCo has invested US$6.4 million in the three companies with longterm agenda of investing between US$10 to US$20 million in the next ten years in small and medium sized businesses.
Baldwin highlighted that the UK Government was impressed to see such an investment in Rwanda, saying it will spur local production of nutritious food whilst creating new markets for maize farmers.
Her Government wants to be the largest G7 investor in Africa.
UK is the second largest investor in Rwanda, according to last year’s statistics from Rwanda Development Board.