Yolanda Grandison has always been attracted to the business of agriculture for as long as she could remember. As a Biology major at Wayne State University, she took many courses in agriculture that exposed her to farming. That exposure continued to grow after she joined a globally-focused travel group that invited her to Africa. After speaking with a friend about starting a business in Africa and conducting her own research, she was introduced to a potential business partner in Nigeria. Yolanda says she began working with him slowly and they developed their business relationship over time as trust was built. She says with his connections and her financial backing, they were able to launch a full fledged farming business in Nigeria in 2015.
Farming and Agriculture is BIG Business in Africa
Yolanda and her partner’s farming business in Nigeria is very diverse. They currently raise pigs and grow plantain on one acre of farm land. They just expanded the business by purchasing 10 additional acres of farm land where they will raise more pigs and poultry and plant many more crops such as cassava, corn, cashews and palm trees for palm oil, etc. They also own a feed store where farmers can come to purchase pig and poultry feeds and shop for all of their animal needs. With the feed store, more farm land and the ability to plant more crops, Yolanda says the farming business has the ability to generate revenue into the millions over the next few years.
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There Are Honest Business People in Africa – Yolanda Says She Living Proof
Yolanda says she wants to dispel the negative stereotypes about doing business in Africa. She says “there are trustworthy people in Africa with integrity that do good business. My business partner has proven to be trustworthy. There are unethical people in every country. But also good people.” She suggests working with people who have a common goal of building a big business. People who have a common goal want to realize their common goal and are more likely to follow ethical business practices to make it happen.
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Starting a Business in Africa Creates Jobs and Builds Generational Wealth
Yolanda says she is “helping people live a better life” by creating jobs for them through her farming business. She’s sees herself not only as an entrepreneur, but also a humanitarian. Her business is not just about making a profit, but also enabling people to work and eat. She says when she visited Nigeria, people were congratulating her for doing what she’s doing…buying land, farming, employing people, and enabling families to earn more money. Ultimately, her purpose for starting a business in Africa was to give back, make a difference and build generational wealth for herself and her business partner and create an additional income stream for their seasonal employees.
The Biggest Challenges She’s Faced in the Farming Business
Finding reliable people that are willing to do the best job is a challenge in Africa (just like it can be here in the states). She states, “the pig industry is hard work.” The rain can be an issue during the rainy season. There are times when the rain is great and other times when it’s too much rain. There must also be a veterinarian on hand to care for the animals and fight disease. They also have to take good care of the soil to ensure good quality crops are grown.
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Her Advice for Entrepreneurs Who Aspire to Start a Business in Africa
“There are cultural differences”, says Yolanda. You have to communicate well and take the time to understand how each person wants to contribute to the business. You have to learn how to respect each others opinions, culture and traditions. She also said it’s good to have a lawyer in the country where you start the business, to protect your interests. She says she has a lawyer in Nigeria “to protect her business interests and ensure all legalities are in order.” Overall, she suggests you collaborate with a partner that knows and lives in the area, has the same ideas as you and slowly build a relationship with them to establish trust. To get more advice about starting a farming business in Africa, you can connect with Yolanda on LinkedIn or her business partner, Joshua Nuga, on LinkedIn.
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