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ATBO-Invest’s duo of entrepreneurs has set up a cocoa plantation in Ghana and is attracting other investors for its next project.
For cocoa trees to thrive, they need plenty of heat, humidity and fertile soil. Ghana offers just the right conditions, and it is the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa behind Côte d’Ivoire, its neighbouring country in West Africa.
Now, a Finnish company has joined the Ghanaian cocoa business: Emmanuel Yakah and Daniel Enkvist, a duo of entrepreneurs, established ATBO-Invest Oy, and the company made its first investment in a cocoa plantation in eastern Ghana. “The area measures 150 acres (approximately 62 hectares), of which 20 acres have been put to use. We aim to expand the cocoa plantation gradually,” Yakah says.
The first cocoa tree seedlings were planted in 2017. According to Yakah, the cocoa trees can be expected to yield a full harvest about five years after planting.
While Yakah and Enkvist wait on their first harvest, they have identified partners in Ghana who will enable the cocoa to be exported to Finland and elsewhere in Europe.
Finnpartnership granted Business Partnership Support to ATBO-Invest for identifying partners. “Finnpartnership’s support has been very important in getting our company off the ground,” says Enkvist.
The company has identified suitable partners and channels for shipping the cocoa. It aims to begin importing cocoa into Finland without any intermediaries. “The large chocolate manufacturers buy the cocoa they need as a semifinished product on international markets. Our target group consists of smaller companies that make high-quality chocolate products and want to buy cocoa beans directly from sustainably produced sources,” says Yakah.
“We will make our final decisions on the cocoa bean sales channels once we have our first harvest,” he continues.
ATBO-Invest’s business idea is to invest in economically viable business projects in Africa. Its operations focus on agriculture. According to Enkvist, the investment company is reaching out to individual investors, companies and organisations that are interested in investing in projects that promote environmentally friendly agricultural practices in Africa. The investment projects must be economically viable, but they also seek to have a positive developmental impact on local communities.
There are currently four permanent employees working on ATBO-Invest’s first cocoa plantation, along with around ten seasonal workers. As the operation expands, it will create dozens of jobs in rural Ghana.
In addition to cocoa, ATBO-Invest is expanding its investments into the production of cashew nuts. Together with its Ghanaian partner, the company has earmarked 100 acres of land for cashew trees, the first of which should be planted in 2020. “We are now looking for investors for this project,” Enkvist says.
This is not an easy task in Finland, as there are still a lot of outdated and false impressions of Africa. “Finns are cautious about investing in Africa. Other Europeans have already invested heavily in Africa. Perhaps we are a little too slow to get started in Finland,” Enkvist states.
The entrepreneurial duo established the cocoa plantation with their own money. “We want to turn it into a success story – a reference project that demonstrates a profitable investment with positive developmental impacts,” Enkvist emphasises.