British International Investment
6 February 2018

How an African business connects smallholder farmers to global markets

In 2012, we directly invested $32.5 million in Export Trading Group, an agribusiness which connects smallholder farmers in African countries with global markets. Watch the video or read the story below to find out more about the company and our involvement.


Africa has around 600 million hectares of arable land for farming. With the global demand for food increasing, African countries are well placed to help meet this need. However, nearly 70 per cent of farmers in Africa are subsistence farmers. With the right training, support and access to markets, these farmers can increase their output and generate additional income.

Our investment in Export Trading Group (ETG)

In 2012, we directly invested $32.5 million in Export Trading Group (ETG), an agribusiness which connects smallholder farmers to global markets. We exited the investment in 2016, having helped Export Trading Group achieve significant financial and developmental impact.

Since we first invested, ETG has built additional warehouses and food processing plants. When we first invested in the business in 2012, its turnover was $884 million. When we sold our stake in 2016, its turnover had increased to $2.8 billion, as a result of higher food processing revenue. This has reduced crop wastage and provided farmers with a bigger market for their produce.

How ETG supports jobs

Over the course of our investment, the company was able to create 2,000 direct jobs in its warehouses and food processing plants, in addition to the 3,000 people it already employed.

As well as creating new jobs, the business also invests in the development of existing staff. Adrian Singano, an Operations Manager at an ETG processing plant in Malawi has built his career with the company: “They sent me to school to learn how to run the machine. I was given the chance and now I can say, “I can run the plant by myself, with my fellow Malawians.”

How ETG supports smallholder farmers

Around 5 million smallholder farmers across Africa sell their produce to the company. The ETG Farmers Foundation aims to support some of these smallholders by providing training for farmers in rural areas of Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and enabling them to access new markets.

We also worked with ETG’s Farmers Foundation to enable it to extend its reach and to better connect it with the company’s operations.

The Foundation has now reached over 8,000 farmers. Catherine Chibwana from Malawi says she’s benefitting: “After I realised that in pigeon peas there is profit, I started growing pigeon peas, and now I am no longer reliant on my parents.”

Subscribe to receive our latest news and updates