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Black Mamba- Changing the world one chilli at a time

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Black Mamba, the HOTTEST African brand is on a mission to bring sustainable, freshly made products to the world, that taste good, look good and do good. In this exclusive chat with Claudia Castellanos who is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at Black Mamba, Claudia shares her African story with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online. Excerpts.

Black Mamba is a fair trade producer of gourmet chilli products, based in the African Kingdom of Eswatini. Founded in 2010, and manufactures a range of chilli sauces, pestos, pickles, chutneys and jams, all made with natural, fresh ingredients, and no artificial flavours or preservatives.

Currently Black Mamba exports its products to South Africa, the U.K., Germany, Norway and the US, amongst other markets. And their premises posses a FSSC22000 food safety certification, one of the strictest in the world.

(Image credit: Claudia Castellanos)

This business was started by Claudia Castellanos and her husband Joe Roques who both share their love for chillies with the passion for development of communities and sustainable farming. From the beginning, while stirring a pot of chilli sauce from the back their house, they believed that it was possible to make a high quality, distinctively delicious product with a 100% sustainable value chain that would benefit those involved and the environment.

Black Mamba works in partnership with a local NGO called Guba, whose mission is to improve the livelihood of communities in Eswatini through the use of permaculture practices. Black Mamba and Guba have a symbiotic relationship where Guba develops the farmers and their farming skills, and Black Mamba provides the marketplace for the Guba-trained farmers to sell their organically grown products.

To date, Black Mamba provides a sustainable income to 60 farmers, mostly women, that are part of this initiative. Over 1000 individuals are directly impacted as each farmer has in average 6 dependents and shares their knowledge with 11 members of their community.

Chillies (Image credit: Claudia Castellanos)

Claudia said; “We have established ourselves as a cult brand locally, and envision growing this worldwide, connecting chilli heads and ethical foodies across the world to generation of growers, providing proof that planet and people matter.”

Social Impact

  • 14 full-time employees, 12 of which are women and the main breadwinners of their households in average 5 dependents.
  • 60 farmers, of which 50 are women- in average 6 dependents and sharing knowledge with 11 members of their communities.
  • Current impact over 1000 individuals Possibility to engage up to 180 farmers with a potential impact on 5000 individuals.
  • Access to work and sustainable income.
  • Welfare programmess: Peer education on health and gender topics, mobile clinics (general checkups, breast and cervix cancer, HIV) and savings programmes for employees
  • The farmers have also learnt how to grow herbs for medicinal use, other crops to sell to their communities, healthier food and firewood.

Growers (Image credit: Claudia Castellanos)

Also Read: Chynna Morgan – helping brands create memorable experiences using sound + music with GIF Out Loud

Environmental Impact

  • Improved soil structure.
  • Diversity of ground cover crops.
  • Reduced erosion.
  • Improved use of water resources.
  • Improved biodiversity at homestead level.
  • Packaging material: glass and cardboard.
  • 90% of our waste gets recycled or composted.
(Image credit: Claudia Castellanos)

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Press Release

Amila Africa Launches Amila Insights

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Amila Africa Founder, Lethabo Sithole 

Amila Africa is thrilled to announce the launch of Amila Insights, a revolutionary division that is committed to providing advanced analytics, research and comprehensive solutions for businesses, governments, and international organisations looking to achieve success in African markets. The company offers a range of services, including syndicated market intelligence reports, customized research solutions, high-level market access events, content development, and value communication. 

As a budding pan-African and women-led advisory firm specialising in policy, enterprise and infrastructure development within the trade, investment and energy sectors, Amila Africa brings unparalleled expertise to the forefront with the launch of Amila Insights. 

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“With a focus on demystifying development trends and delivering data-driven analyses of opportunities across Africa, Amila Insights serves as the strategic partner organisations need to thrive in the region” said Lethabo Sithole, Managing Director of Amila Africa. “Our suite of services is meticulously designed to empower clients with the tools and knowledge necessary to drive growth and achieve sustainable success.” 

With a steadfast commitment to collaboration and partnership, Amila Insights collaborates closely with clients to develop tailored solutions aligned with their specific goals and priorities. “By leveraging its extensive network and deep understanding of local dynamics, Amila Insights assists clients in identifying new opportunities, enhancing competitiveness, and optimising business strategies,” said Noluthando Mthonti-Mlambo, Executive Director at Amila Insights. 

Amila Insights strives to be more than just a provider of information and data to clients. It aims to challenge the existing narratives on Africa, African businesses, countries, and multilateral organizations and become a trusted source of inspiration and change. 

For businesses, governments, and international organisations seeking to unlock the vast potential of African markets, Amila Insights represents a compelling opportunity to gain useful insights into the complex, evolving and growing African market. With a focus on excellence and a dedication to delivering tangible results, Amila Insights stands ready to be the trusted partner organisation to rely on to navigate the dynamic landscape of African business.

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African Guarantee Fund partners FSD Africa to boost Green SME Financing

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The African Guarantee Fund (AGF), a leader in promoting financing of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) across Africa and FSD Africa, a pioneering development agency committed to reshaping Africa’s long-term financial landscape, have today signed a strategic Cooperation Agreement aimed at propelling the growth of Green SMEs by providing critical financial support, technical assistance, and capacity building.

The Cooperation Agreement outlines a detailed framework collaboration between the organizations in boosting sustainable development in Africa. The main aspects of this partnership involve assisting in the development of financial products for institutions, offering partial credit guarantees for bonds and funds raised on behalf of SMEs, and conducting capacity-building events.

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Furthermore, by providing financial support and fostering business growth, Green SMEs are expected to play a pivotal role in reducing CO2 emissions. This active contribution aligns with the overarching goal of preserving the environment and facilitates access to finance for business growth and empowering SMEs to generate and sustain employment opportunities, especially for youth and women.

Speaking during the agreement signing, Mark Napier, Chief Executive Officer of FSD Africa said: “This partnership represents an important milestone in our efforts to foster sustainable economic development in Africa. By leveraging the strengths of FSD Africa and the African Guarantee Fund, we will actively create a robust ecosystem that empowers Green SMEs. This collaborative effort aims at facilitating access to affordable long-term funds, thereby accelerating the transition towards a greener and more resilient economy.”

Jules Ngankam, AGF Group Chief Executive Officer said: “Fostering a green economic transformation in Africa is one of our key priorities. Through this partnership, AGF will provide financial institutions with bank fundraising guarantees to enable them access affordable funds aimed at facilitating loans to SMEs investing in low carbon and climate resilient businesses”.

Additionally, AGF will extend partial credit guarantees to lenders in a bid to enhance credit accessibility for Green SMEs, empowering them to flourish and make meaningful contributions to environmental conservation.

The two organisations will also provide technical assistance on green financing initiatives, which is critical in building the capacity of key stakeholders such as Governments, Financial Institutions, and Green SMEs.

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Press Release

Africa Finance Corporation Appoints Emeka Emuwa as Chairman of Board

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Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the continent’s leading instrumental infrastructure solutions provider, today announces the appointment of Mr. Emeka Emuwa as Chairman of its Board of Directors. Mr. Emuwa brings a wealth of experience spread over three decades leading and transforming banking institutions across Africa. After completing a sterling 25-year career with Citibank where he left as the Country Officer and Managing Director of Citibank in Nigeria, he went on to serve as the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank of Nigeria. 

In this role, he led the bank’s transformation and worked successfully with the new shareholders to transform and restore one of Nigeria’s oldest institutions back to its rightful position as a credible and strong provider of financial services. Mr. Emuwa’s extensive experience and unwavering dedication to the advancement of Africa make him a valuable asset to AFC at a time when the Corporation is rapidly expanding its operations across the continent and building partnerships through international collaborations.

He has been a part of AFC’s Board since 2015, previously serving as the Chairman of the Board Risk and Investment Committee, and as a member of the Board Nominations and Governance Committee. He is also the Chairman of Tangerine Financial (U.K.), the holding company for a financial services group providing insurance and pensions solutions across the continent. Mr Emuwa is thus well positioned to oversee and guide AFC on its future strategy and growth aspirations. The Corporation’s mission to accelerate development impact, foster industrialisation, and enhance value capture and retention across the continent through the provision of critical infrastructure, is crucial for African development and prosperity.

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Speaking on the appointment, Samaila Zubairu, President & CEO of AFC, said: “Mr. Emuwa’s considerable experience, insightful perspectives and immense dedication to Africa’s development seamlessly align with our mission. We are confident that under his continued guidance, AFC will continue to make significant strides in transforming the continent. He brings a deep understanding of Africa’s financial landscape within a global context, and has a clear vision for enabling AFC to further amplify its impact.”

Mr. Emuwa commented on his appointment, saying: “I am deeply honoured to be appointed Chairman of Africa Finance Corporation, an institution that has, over the past 16 years, evolved into the leading infrastructure investor in Africa, delivering transformational projects across pivotal sectors of the economy. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the board, management, and all stakeholders to advance AFC’s mission and strengthen its role as a driving force for economic growth and infrastructure development on the African continent.”

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