Tomato Processing on the Ashesi University Campus

Based on data produced by the Ghana National Tomato Producers Federation, Ghana produces over 510,000 tons of tomatoes each year. Out of this number, 153,000 which constitutes 30% is lost after harvest (Goodman, 2017). The perishable nature of tomatoes means that it easily goes to waste.

Hannah Dorkenu, an AVI fellow who describes the programme as a “growth avenue” is the co-founder and production manager of Korah Foods, a start-up tomato processing company located on the Ashesi University campus. The main aim of her business is to half post-harvest tomato losses by 20140. Its primary operations include purchasing excess fresh tomatoes from tomato farmers in Ghana and processing it into diced tomatoes. 

Korah Foods is exploring the problem of post-harvest tomato losses in Ghana. Realizing that most of the loss is endured by farmers, it became necessary for them to solve the problem for the farmers. Their team had to consider the shelf-life of tomatoes and the various ways in which tomatoes are preserved now, such as keeping the tomatoes in ash, freezing, and processing the tomatoes into a puree, pastes, among others. Some of the on-farm preservation methods still led to spoilage after a week. 

Noticing this gap, the solution Korah Foods provided is to source tomatoes from farmers and process them into diced tomatoes. Her diced tomatoes are good to consume from 3 months, even a year after production, which is a good preservation span. Their solution, which solves the preservation/ waste problem on the farmer’s end, also brings in revenue as their products will be paid for by their target customers. Consumers in turn also benefit from an easy to prepare, healthy processed tomato alternative which maintains the freshness of the tomatoes.

The AVI entrepreneur’s “biggest challenge so far has been customer acquisition since” her product “is in a new market and slightly more expensive compared to substitutes on the market.”

Hannah’s “goal-getter” mentor, Muhammida El Muhajir is the director of strategy for WaxPrint Media, a boutique strategic media and digital marketing agency with a focus on technology, luxury and innovation in Africa. 

“I believe my mentor is very knowledgeable in the field of marketing and it is an honor to be connected to her” Hannah has expressed. Muhammida “is making a lot of impact. Sometimes I have all my ideas jumbled up in my head then I contact her, talk through it with her and everything is suddenly clearer. She loves all her marketing materials to be clean and so do I and although I am a little behind with execution, I see my vision through her.”

In Muhammida’s own words,

“I have had experience working with some of the biggest brands in the world such as Nike, Pepsico and Jaguar Land Rover, however my personal passion is encouraging and empowering young entrepreneurs for success. My work with my mentee is very fulfilling. I am sharing real world experience with her to help her expand the vision for her startup. We work on the smallest details such as graphic design ideas for her Instagram page to big ideas such as how to access retail suppliers to grow the business. She has been very receptive during the process and I always hope my contribution is beneficial to the venture.”