This article was originally posted in the Farmer-to-Farmer FY2016 Annual Report
Cecilia Rice founded Estrell Trading Company in 2012 with her own savings and small loans from friends. Ms. Rice wanted to produce peanut flour after she recognized that it is in high demand and an important nutritional supplement. Ms. Rice now employs 31 people, including 22 women, and is also producing peanut butter which she sells well throughout Malawi. Ms. Rice has proven herself as a successful entrepreneur, but she is the first to admit that she lacks the accounting skills necessary to access commercial bank loans. Through the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program, she sought technical assistance to convince banks that her company is a viable investment.
In August 2015, CNFA identified Ronald Overmyer, a consultant with 30 years of experience working with agribusinesses, to create a strategic business plan to highlight the profitability of Estrell Trading Company. In April 2016, Estrell Trading company received a $175,000 loan from Business Partners International, a regional fund management company. Ms. Rice used the loan to purchase new machinery that increased the quantity and quality of their products. She bought a roasting machine, a grading machine, a sugar grinder and a peanut butter processing machine. The loan was also used to build a new warehouse, upgrade the outdated electrical system, and increase the working capital. Ms. Rice is thrilled with the new investment and sees an increase in production and growth. Estrell Trading Company now has the capacity to process 2.8 metric tons of peanuts per day, 1.6 tons more than before, and the peanut products are available now in all major supermarkets in Malawi.