Three leading World developing financial institutions recently announced an investment United Exports to support a 180-hectare blueberry farm expansion and infrastructure upgrade.
The International Finance Corporation [IFC], a member of the World Bank Group, the Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. [FMO], and the Danish Sustainable Development Goals Investment Fund, managed by the Investment Fund for Developing Countries [IFU], will provide a long-term financing package to support United Exports [currently trading under the name Mbiza Trading Ltd.] expansion programme. The instrument was specifically designed to assume the early-stage risk that commercial banks do not offer.
Co-founder and Global CEO of United Exports Roger Horak says the financing from these leading development financial institutions will enable the company to increase our planning and packing capacities to capture market share in the fast-growing international blueberry market.
“The support from these institutions will help us increase the availability of our new varieties to meet the demand of markets as well as improve the technology used by our farms, thus increasing their efficiency and incomes,” Mr Horak said.
Kevin Njiraini, IFC Regional Director for Southern Africa, said South Africa needs to expand efficient companies that can create jobs and grow the economy.
“The country has the potential, and IFC is committed to working with the best companies and partners to make that happen,” he said.
FMO’s Manager Agribusiness Food and Water for Africa, Hans Bogaard added: “With this facility to United Exports/Mbiza, FMO is helping South Africa to establish itself as an emerging blueberry production hub, resulting in large-scale job-creation in communities that have a very high unemployment rate and further development of the industry.”
United Exports/Mbiza expects to create 200 to 250 new permanent jobs and another 4,200 seasonal jobs, many of which will be women. The proposed investment will be complemented by advisory service that will help strengthen supply, raise rural employment, and create jobs along the food supply chain, and expands new domestic and export markets.
“The financing for United Exports/Mbiza is a good example on how we can assist private companies in growing their business, increasing local jobs, food production as well as rural development, which is in line with our aim to support the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals,” IFU Regional Director for Southern Africa, Johnny Ohgrøn Hansen said.
Blueberries, a ranked superfood, are an increasingly popular berry among consumers, who have been increasing consumption of them over the past few decades as new varieties have made them more accessible to buy and store and consume on multiple occasions. In 2017, South Africa exported $50 million worth of fresh berries with blueberries being a significant portion, of which United Exports/Mbiza accounted for some 30 per cent.