Along with impact investor, AgDevCo, in 2016 we invested $8 million in Jacoma Estates, a Malawian agribusiness. Jacoma’s estates cover plantation, forestry and cash crops, which it supplies to Europe, Asia, and South Africa.
The money is helping the company expand its operations in Northern Malawi, supporting agricultural production in one of Africa’s poorest countries.
Ensure ‘everything is in place’
Duncan McDavid, Jacoma’s Chief Executive Officer, describes getting the investment off the ground. “It was a thorough process, as we had to go through every aspect of the business, but the positive is that when you come out the other side, you know that everything is in place.”
Since then, we have continued to support Jacoma’s operations, working with the team to develop irrigation and processing facilities at its sites to boost the yield and quality of its core products – macadamia nuts, chili and paprika.
Duncan says, “Our main interaction is with the CDC directors who are involved with our work. They have been very supportive, very pragmatic and a great asset to have on our board.”
Building effective systems
Our input has also proved invaluable on the environmental and safety side of Jacoma’s operations.
Duncan explains, “With the environmental and social team’s help we have built several systems, including waste management systems; water monitoring management systems; occupational health and safety processes; and even grievance procedures. We’ve gone through the hard yards of doing a lot of planning, and now we’re moving into the implementation side.”
Jacoma is now introducing a year-round irrigation system to local smallholders, enabling suppliers – typically SMEs – to reach new markets.
The new systems have prompted Jacoma to continue to improve its environmental management. Duncan says, “The water monitoring system has helped us to ensure that we’re not just getting through, but that we’re trying to become best-in-class and applying good practices. This helps the business.”
Exploring renewable energy
As well as improving the day-to-day systems that are essential to helping Jacoma boost its output, CDC is also supporting larger scale projects.
“There have been discussions about introducing renewable energy. What’s been nice is that CDC has been pragmatic about exploring different avenues where it can give both funding support and technical support, including putting in an off-the-grid system that helps us contain our costs and ensure our electricity supply.”
Duncan McDavid, CEO, Jacoma Estates
New ideas for the future
The team at Jacoma also appreciate CDC’s input on strategic planning. Duncan concludes, “There’s been real encouragement for the team to think longer term and to think about new ideas. There’s also a willingness to look at funding if the company comes up with ideas and options to grow the business.”