World’s first social impact trading business delivers on Gambian promise …

An Aspuna Gambia apprenticeship scheme 2021 cohort bubble

(January 8th 2021, Duwasu Village, West Coast Region, The Gambia). Since launching its initial processing operation in The Gambia in 2017, Aspuna Group, the world’s first social impact commodities business, has grown from strength to strength. Now, with operating centres in Nigeria and Tanzania and more soon to announce, this pioneering business has launched its first ever apprenticeship programme, in partnership with the German GIZ, in The Gambia. Apprenticeship schemes were always part of the Aspuna business model, says Aspuna Group CEO, Maria-Yassin Jah, and will ensure the sustainability of the business’s pioneering approach to agro-processing and commodities trading …

Establishing its first agro-processing plant in The Gambia in 2017, Aspuna Group’s intention was to enable small-scale farmers to transform cassava into starch (tapioca) of a quality so far unrivalled in Africa. Selling processed cassava would keep the value of these farmers’ crops within their communities, in line with the government’s World Bank-backed vision and strategy. To ensure the sustainability of this pioneering model of agro-processing and commodities trading, Aspuna Group partnered with the German GIZ to develop and deliver an apprenticeship scheme too.

“The Aspuna method aims to unlock Africa’s abundant but under-utilised agricultural wealth to help eradicate hunger, poverty, and unemployment and secure food security. We have already proven that this approach works in The Gambia, employing 35 local people, who have produced every season so far, albeit at a reduced rate in 2020 due to the pandemic. In addition, we have trained 627 youth farmers, and are now adding 35 new apprentices to the team,” advises Maria-Yassin Jah, co-founder and CEO of Aspuna Group.

“Having proven that the Aspuna concept delivers in The Gambia, we’re now growing, having set up new entities in Nigeria and Tanzania, where our processing plants are already in operation, as well as several other sub-Saharan countries, news about which will be announced soon.

“From the start our intention had always been to set up apprenticeship schemes within the communities we operate and we are all so proud to be kicking off 2021 with our first such scheme,” Ms Jah adds.

The scheme, which saw apprentices selected via an application process and interview, ensures 35 community members will receive practical, technical and literacy training. Practical training will include the fundamental principles of climate smart, sustainable agriculture. Technical training will include modules on the processing process, machinery handing and manufacturing processes. Literacy training will support all apprentices, some who were unable to attend school beyond primary years, to develop reading and writing skills.

“Aspuna Group promotes a code of conduct in keeping with our values, which can be summarised as take responsibility, be the best, respect each other, and be bold and diverse. Apprentices will be encouraged to live these values and were, we’re proud to say, selected according to them. In fact, because the application process was designed with our values in mind, we’re delighted to welcome equal numbers of males and females, victims of human trafficking and individuals with disabilities to the growing Aspuna team,” Ms Jah explains.

“I am looking forward to starting with Aspuna soon. I have always had an interest in agri-processing and this is a rare opportunity in The Gambia to learn more about it and get skilled in the area,” says newly recruited apprentice, 33 year old Antou Ndow.

About Aspuna Group

Aspuna Group is the world’s first social impact commodities business.  We make trading fair. Strongly committed to the generation of socioeconomic returns, alongside profit, we build processing capacity within the regions where the products we trade in originate.

By enabling the farming communities we work with to add processing capacity to their local operations, we support them to increase their return on investment. This stabilises the provision of sustainable, ethical supply chains to international commodities buyers.

Initially focusing on Africa and the softs markets, we now offer agro-processing trading and advisory services to public and private organisations wishing to extend African processing capacities too.

Press contact:

Nicki Hayes || +4 (0)7870 154453