Olam – success with investing in Cote D’Ivoire

Olam are a very large, very successful company who have built their fortune by investing carefully around the world.  Olam specialise in agricultural processing, food ingredients and supply chain management.  Founded in 1989, Olam’s operations went to Cote D’Ivoire in 1994.

They grow:

  • Cotton
  • Cocoa
  • Cashew
  • Coffee

Olam are the largest export of cashew nuts on Cote D’Ivoire.   They are also the largest exporter of coffee from Cote D’Ivoire for the last seven years.

Olam run a sustainable cocoa program and employ 12,000 farmers  through 5,000 co-operatives.

Major imports to the Cote D’Ivoire

  • Rice
  • Dairy
  • Palm oil
  • Rubber
  • Sugar

The fact that all these imported items could easily be grown and processed locally presents a great investment opportunity in Cote D’Ivoire.

Advantages to investing in Cote D’Ivoire

Good Power Supply

Africa as a whole lacks reliable power supply through a grid.  This hinders business and business development.  It also puts off tourists who are missing out on an amazing part of the world. The only complaint is that the power tends to be expensive.

Good educational system

Olam recruit all staff locally if possible including management and engineering personnel.  The level of education is good enough to have local expertise.

Existing Industrial Base

There is already an existing industrial base with infrastructure and service companies in business. Certainly there are enough facilities to invest in a business and have local provision for:

  • Good service network
  • Good packaging industry
  • Good communications

Access to markets

Putting the local market aside, Cote D’Ivoire gives direct access to ECOWAS  – the Economic Community Of West Africa.  This in itself is an enormous market both geographically and in terms of population. West Africa is increasingly moving forward in all areas with an expanding middle class and potential consumer market.

There is great potential for fresh fruit and vegetables to be grown for export to neighbouring countries.  Bananas are currently exported to the EU. Palm oil and sugar have potential for bio fuel.  At the moment, the demand for edible oil means it is not necessary to further process oils but this could change in the future.  Rice is always going to find a market in Africa.  Intensification is needed to increase yields and profits. SRI ( system of rice intensification) also has many ecological benefits for the land.  Diversification for any business spreads the risk especially with farming.

Written by: Fiona Johnson

November 2013

For other articles that you will find interesting on investing in agriculture, click here.