Raising Incomes with Fair Trade Mangoes in Burkina Faso
Fruiteq, a private export company founded in 2005, buys organic and Fair Trade fresh mangoes from more than 500 small-scale producers to whom they provide technical training and financial support. Fruiteq is located in Burkina Faso, a landlocked West African nation where more than 70 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day. Root Capital financing has enabled Fruiteq to expand its supplier base, fulfill orders, and provide much-needed income in an impoverished nation.
Client Profile: Fruiteq
Burkina Faso has an ideal climate for growing mangoes. Since 2002, there has been increasing European demand for fresh and dried fruits, with imports of mangoes alone increasing by 50 percent. Fruiteq was established with investment from AgroFair, a Dutch importer of Fair Trade organic fruit.
Initially, Fruiteq struggled to achieve timely shipment of its mangoes, which require refrigeration throughout their journey to market. With initial support from a major buyer, Fruiteq established a reliable supply chain, but still struggled to purchase enough high-quality produce to fill its orders. Its small-scale suppliers had little experience meeting stringent EU quality standards for organic produce, and AgroFair was only a small player in the European produce market.
In 2009, Fruiteq decided to expand both its producer base and its buyer base. This is when Root Capital, recognizing the potential for Fruiteq to scale up its sales and its impact on farmers’ livelihoods, made an initial loan of $350,000 in 2009. In just one year, this infusion of working capital helped Fruiteq increase its sales three-fold.
This jump in demand allowed Fruiteq to bring hundreds of new farmers into their supply chain. With more trade credit from Root Capital in 2010, Fruiteq sent experts into the field to help its suppliers increase both the quality and yield of their mango production. They focus on environmental education that includes preparation of compost, natural pest control, and soil conservation.
Better techniques mean a better living for thousands of farmers in the region. Fruiteq pays small-scale farmers three to five times the price they would receive selling mangoes on the local market.
“We pay $6 a crate for export quality fruit, while the local price is $2,” says Fruiteq CEO Zongo Adama. “Quality and collaboration – that’s the key to prosperity.”
All Fair Trade mangoes sold by Fruiteq receive a social premium that producer organizations can invest in social projects. Fair Trade premiums have been spent by producer organizations on health center equipment, an ambulance, a community tractor, and water pumps that allow for growing staple crops during the dry season.