CARL Group transforms sweet potatoes into products rich in vitamin A

We have been friends as we went to the same high school and we knew the four of us that we had a passion in food processing and we also had an ambition to revolutionize our food processing industry in our community, when we were at the second year at University 2 years ago, myself Clarisse Murekatete, Ada Elyse Irirashenono, Regis Umugiraneza and Larissa Uwase, we co-founded CARL Group a youth led company which is specializing in the transformation of Orange fleshed sweet potatoes into well processed and affordable products rich in vitamin A namely biscuits, crisps, donuts, bread and noodles.

Having been an agronomist by training and passion, I partnered with Agriculture graduates and food scientist and we practiced our skills to make CARL Group impact the lives of many.

The reason why we brought Vita products is that we had seen malnutrition as a crucial problem in our country where 38% of children under five years are vitamin A deficient and also after realizing the huge problem of food losses of this specie of sweet potato yet it is a very nutritious crop very rich in beta carotene the major source of vitamin A, we decided to tackle these issues.

We had seen the need of varieties of food which can be liked by children and made out of our locally grown crops in order to generate income for the small holder farmers’ women growers of the sweet potatoes.

Vita bread, biscuits and crisps are already on the market, but we did a sample of vita noodles by the help of University of Rwanda and we are looking for funds in order to start producing it, this is our goal for 2018 and it will be an outstanding product that can be even exported all over the world because it has a long shelf life.

Having started from only an idea and today having got customers of our brand new products, working already with 200 women growers of these sweet potatoes are some of our achievement. Our team work spirit, zeal to always learn innovative practices, working with the local communities and working well with our stakeholders we believe will drive us to a great success. We have been nominated by The World Economic Forum on Africa among top 5 women innovators because of our project which is bringing a change and impacting the community.

We use a franchise model where we have started with women growers in the southern province we provide them skills and work with them six months, provide those facilities like traditional oven, dough mixer and other small equipment for the preparation of vita bread, donuts, and crisps and then they pay us 15% of their profit. And we want to expand this in different other regions where malnutrition seems to be high and where these sweet potatoes are abundantly grown. We also make money through selling our vita products in different supermarket in Kigali and also we secured 10 schools.

We have competitors who have gained the market before us, but as we penetrated into the market with a good marketing strategy, and using social media people started to know our product and they welcomed the idea of transforming the sweet potatoes and make delicious products.

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