Scaling up a Youth-Owned Fish Business to Combat Malnutrition
In Rwanda, the expansive Lake Kivu is known for its views … and for its fish. Just minutes away from its banks, a small, emerging business is taking advantage of its proximity. Triumvirate Food Co. Ltd. started sourcing sambaza — minnow-like fish akin to smelt — in 2022. The concept of Triumvirate is simple but innovative: harness the large supply of fish and process it into a shelf-stable fish flour that can help round out the nutrition content of meals. Think of it as a sustainably sourced nutrition supplement. The powder can be used in almost any savory Rwandan family meal and works well to add nutrients to young children’s porridge.
Amani’s story: Starting a fledgling sambaza business to provide for his family
Triumvirate’s team is small, but mighty. At its helm, a charismatic 30-year-old named Amani owns and manages the business. Amani shares how he first started selling sambaza out of pure necessity: he grew up with a single mother in Kigali and needed to support his family. Starting a business is never easy, and Amani explains that young business owners often face tougher challenges than other entrepreneurs. For one, access to capital and finance is difficult for young people. Amani explains, “You might have a great idea … but many banks do not trust young people with loans.”
But, Amani also sees the silver lining to being a young entrepreneur: “It gives you courage to dream big.” Triumvirate hopes to increase its production capacity from 550 to 4,400 pounds of fish flour per month, as well as improve its packaging, distribution, and marketing. With a grant from the Feed the Future Orora Wihaze Activity, Triumvirate furnished its processing facility in Nyamasheke District with a machine to wash raw fish, a drying machine, a milling machine, a vacuum sealer and a packaging machine.
Orora Wihaze is supporting the company to get a product standard certificate from the Rwanda Standard Board (RSB). With the certification, Triumvirate will be able to increase availability and accessibility of a nutrient-dense food at rural, local markets that is affordable for low-income household families.