'The Entrepreneur Stories - Women’s Day edition': agribusiness on Madagascar

Since 2014, DGGF - Financing Local SMEs has been a driver of improved access to finance for the missing middle in frontier markets and has supported the creation of over 45.358 jobs. Behind this number of jobs created are the stories of inspiring entrepreneurs who, with the trust and support from the DGGF investment funds, have been able to maintain and create jobs, stimulate innovation, and drive inclusive economic growth, even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘The Entrepreneur Stories’ series shows a glimpse of the business- and daily activities of the DGGF SMEs financed. DGGF dedicates the month of March to female entrepreneurship, International Women’s Day and female leadership.

In light of this female entrepreneurship month, we introduce Malala Rabenoro, founder of Soafiary, in the last edition of the ‘The Entrepreneur Stories’.

“The Entrepreneur Stories - Women’s Day Edition”: A socially responsible agribusiness in the Madagascan highlands

Changing the future of Madagascan farmers

Soafiary is a socially responsible agribusiness specialised in the sourcing, processing, and commercialisation of cereals (maize, rice) and leguminous plants (beans, cape peas, lentils, soybeans). The company was founded in 2006 when Malala Rabenoro discovered that the farmers in the region were being exploited by collectors to which they were forced to sell their products at a low price. She decided to change the fortunes of these farmers and started Soafiary, a responsible agribusiness.

In 2017, Soafiary launched the SOADIO development project: a model of responsible contract farming that consists of training smallholder farmers and providing them with the agricultural equipment and inputs needed to farm. This allows for the inclusion of small producers in Soafiary’s value chain, who now ensure the company’s supply. In 2020, Soafiary lacked certain resources to keep moving forward. This is when DGGF investee Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) stepped in and formed a partnership with Soafiary. The partnership aims, among others, to support the company in certification and standardisation processes, improving the management system and creating strategic partnerships with investors and third parties.

Soafiary Madagascar
Image: ©Soafiary

A force for socio-economic development

Soafiary is located in the Vakinankaratra region in Madagascar where illiteracy and poverty rates are high. The local population lives mainly from subsistence agriculture or livestock farming. Soafiary aims to address the local social and economic challenges and has social commitment at the heart of its business model. The company for example supports the farmers by offering them small loans, paying for their children’s education, and providing the local school with teaching materials. The company employs nearly 200 people, of which 88 percent are women.

Malala Rabenoro: “I am proud to know that Soafiary has become a force for socio-economic development in our region and in this country”.

Investisseurs & Partenaires

Investisseurs & Partenaires is a French fund manager dedicated to promoting sustainable and profitable small and medium sized African companies with high local added value. The fund has a broad objective to promote gender equality in the formal SME sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 40 percent of new investments are in women-impact SMEs. The I&P Afrique Entrepreneurs II (IPAE II) entered the DGGF investment portfolio in 2019.

Soafiary is the first investment of the fund IPEA II in Madagascar. IPAE II now includes seven companies in its portfolio, targeting start-ups and SMEs in the development phase in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more about I&P and Soafiary on their website: www.ietp.com/en/company/soafiary