RENEW Strategies

RENEW Closes Investment into Ethiopian Injera Company

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Laura Davis
| January 22, 2014

RENEW is pleased to announce the close of an investment into Mama Fresh Injera PLC. The Ethiopian company is the largest commercial manufacturer and exporter of fresh-baked injera, a staple bread of Ethiopian cuisine made from teff, a gluten-free grain.

Members of RENEW's global Impact Angel Network capitalized the investment, which closed in January 2014. The investors began discussions with Mr. Hailu Tessema, who founded Mama Fresh in 2008, during Econ-Tourism trips hosted by RENEW in June and November 2013.

The investment will finance the construction of a new export-focused factory which will enable Mama Fresh to triple daily production of 100% teff injera. Mama Fresh expects to hire 30 additional employees, primarily women, to staff the new facility. The investment will allow Mama Fresh to explore new market opportunities for injera, including the growing gluten-free markets in the U.S. and Europe. The company is working with RENEW’s team of marketing and management professionals to pursue this opportunity and to strengthen the Mama Fresh brand and presence in export markets. The company also intends to research new teff-based gluten-free products in addition to injera.

The investment is expected to achieve significant social impacts for employees, smallholder farmers and the greater Ethiopian economy. Ethiopia is the world’s largest producer of teff, the key ingredient in Mama Fresh injera. The investment is anticipated to more than double the purchases Mama Fresh makes from the more than 300 smallholder farmers who supply teff to the company. The investment also will enable the company to improve working conditions and training of its staff.

“We are excited to partner with the U.S. angel investors and RENEW,” said Mr. Tessema. “They bring considerable expertise on the U.S. market, and they will be helping us improve our quality, strengthen our marketing and develop our U.S. distribution. We are eager to begin production at our new export facility and to start researching teff-based products to help Ethiopia become recognized as a leader in the gluten-free market.”

Alan Gardner, one of the U.S. investors said, “Mama Fresh is well-positioned to become a market leader in Ethiopia and in the export market. Injera is the staple food of Ethiopia and has great domestic market potential. Teff is a gluten-free grain, and, when processed, has considerable export potential. These factors, coupled with the impact Mama Fresh is creating by buying from hundreds of teff farmers, make the company an excellent investment.”

Read an article about Mama Fresh: US market offers growth potential for Ethiopian-based food manufacturer

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