Rwandan Horticulture Exporter Overcomes Hurdles to Build Thriving Produce Business

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Entrepreneur Sakina Usengimana can attest that the road to success in agriculture is paved with failures. After two unsuccessful starts in horticulture export, she refined her strategy and established Afri Foods – now a thriving chilli and produce exporter in Rwanda.

After initial setbacks, Usengimana realized mastering three key areas was critical before trying again:

  1. Developing farming and post-harvest expertise
  2. Selecting the right crop with export demand
  3. Securing a buyer before starting production

Armed with these insights, she connected with the Chairman of the Rwanda Horticulture Exporters Association in 2019 to help align her with an international chilli importer. After contracting with a Dutch buyer, she swiftly began working with chilli farmers to fulfil the order and ship the bountiful harvest abroad.

Sakina Usengimana, CEO of Afri Foods, a Horticulture exporter

Today, Afri Foods exports diverse crops like chilli, avocado, eggplant, and passion fruit to European and Middle Eastern importers. The company sources around 30% of all chilli required for Rwanda’s export markets from its own farms and sources additional supply from outgrowers.

Meeting International Standards with High-Tech Solutions

A key factor in Afri Foods’ success is Usengimana’s emphasis on meeting global quality norms. She ensures crops are cultivated, harvested, and packed to the highest specifications using advanced techniques like greenhouse nursing, drip irrigation, and climate-controlled storage.


“Horticulture exports have extensive requirements for appearance, shelf life, and phytosanitary standards,” she explains. “We leverage technology, so our fresh produce always exceeds expectations when it arrives in international markets.”

By maintaining robust operations and transparent relationships with buyers, Afri Foods has become a model for Rwanda’s horticultural export competitiveness.

Afri Foods Rwanda Horticulture Exportation Company

Empowering Smallholder Farmers

Central to Afri Foods’ rapid growth are strong grower partnerships. Smallholder plots supply over 70% of the company’s export volumes. Providing end-to-end support, from inputs to transport logistics, enables small farmers to improve quality and yields and dependably fulfil orders.

Afri Foods proves resilience and innovation are key not only to business success but also to uplifting rural livelihoods through African agribusiness. Under Sakina’s leadership, the company is poised to keep raising the bar on sustainable, ethical horticulture exports from Rwanda.

Also read: Meet Ghana’s Foodpreneur Bringing Nutritious, Affordable Palm Weevil Larvae to West Africa

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