MCE Social Capital Expands Funding for Sierra Agra’s New Juice Pouch Line

“Not only does Sierra Agra provide stable commercial income to smallholder farmers, the company is building the mango production sector in Sierra Leone. The economic potential of indigenous fruit has been largely untapped.”    —Elisabeth Chasia, MCE Portfolio Manager

“Not only does Sierra Agra provide stable commercial income to smallholder farmers, the company is building the mango production sector in Sierra Leone. The economic potential of indigenous fruit has been largely untapped.”

—Elisabeth Chasia, MCE Portfolio Manager

In March 2019, MCE made a debt investment of US$385,000 in Sierra Agra, a for-profit agribusiness in Sierra Leone. Sierra Agra’s business model achieves two main goals, (1) to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by providing stable income and technical assistance that increases farm productivity; and (2) to strengthen the mango value chain, by processing these mangoes into a commercial product that can be sold locally and internationally.

Not only does Sierra Agra provide stable commercial income to smallholder farmers, the company is building the mango production sector in Sierra Leone. The economic potential of indigenous fruit has been largely untapped.—Elisabeth Chasia, MCE Portfolio Manager

Sierra Agra is excited to announce the recent expansion of funding by MCE Social Capital for the advancement of the DOYPACKⓇ Juice Pouch Line. The Doypack was invented in 1962 as a packaging for fruit juice and olives, by the French inventor Louis Doyen, president of Thimonnier Company. The trademark "Doypack" (from DOYen PACKaging) is filed internationally and is owned by Louis Doyen. A ‘Doypack’ is a sealed plastic bag that is designed to stand upright. Doypacks are commonly used for ready-to-drink beverages.

Sierra Agra’s Juice Pouch Line will include production of an Organic Mango Juice, Organic Coconut Water, and a Healthy Tasty Mango Smoothie. These products will be packaged in DOYPACKⓇ’s popular, soft and stable container including a large printing surface (on both sides) to allows for company design. MCE’s funding advancement will finance equipment for the installation, proposed for Q2 2019, in collaboration with Tropical Food Machinery. The juice processing line is capable of producing approximately 400,000 250mL pouches per month.

MCE Social Capital is confident about Sierra Agra’s working capital levels. MCE’s investment could be disbursed in tranches according to TFM's manufacturing schedule, while keeping combined exposure no higher than US$500K, until the working capital loan is repaid in full. As a precursor to the approval for a capex loan, Sierra Agra will advance on the addition of a CFO/Controller who is responsible for financial management and undergo a formal audit.

Benefits include:

  • To stabilize factory utilization and employment throughout the year,

  • Ability to reallocate end product production and mitigate impact from global market price flux,

  • Increase cash flow both in dollars and in local currency through export and distribution through domestic market,

  • Raise profit margin selling finished product with our own beverage brand,

  • Ability to respond to actual demand for juice now imported from abroad with Sierra Leone production,

  • Develop a unique product with potential to bring to market a meal replacement beverage and partnership with USDA, Catholic Relief Service, World Food Program, Sierra Leone Government and other countries in West Africa,

  • And potential to launch a global PR campaign connecting Sierra Agra’s business directly with consumers.

Woord En Daad Endorses Sierra Agra

“How the first juice plant of Sierra Leone is paying off.”

It might just happen that you can soon buy fruit juice from Sierra Leone's first juice factory in the supermarket. Sierra Leone is a fertile country. But the majority of the population hardly knows how to benefit from this. That is why Woord en Daad and Initiative Sustainable Trade (IDH) are investing in Sierra Leone's first juice plant to offer farmers and factory employees growth prospects.

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A popular product

As the world's population grows and more and more food is needed, the chances for the fertile Sierra Leone are greater than ever. Fruit (juice) is one of the products that do well on the export market. But small-scale farmers do not automatically benefit from the growing demand for food. The power in agricultural chains is often skewed. Farmers are not seen as full partners and do not receive a fair price for their products. In addition, many farmers lack knowledge, resources and markets, with the result that they are unable to grow their production and increase their income.

7,000 farmers involved

Until the end of 2020, Woord en Daad, in cooperation with Fair Match Support, its Sierra Leone partner Jula and the American Sierra Leone factory Sierra Agra, will carry out a project financed by IDH and Woord en Daad. The project aims to organize and train 7,000 farmers in the coconut and mango chain to become suppliers to Sierra Leone's first juice factory. This offers farmers stability and income security. In the factory, value is added to the fruit by processing it, with profit for all concerned. Formation of farmer cooperatives and social certifications are part of the project.

Sierra Agra as Fair Factory

The juice factory works within the project to become a so-called 'Fair Factory'. Woord en Daad has developed the Fair Factory concept in collaboration with its investment company Incluvest. We attach importance to a sector-wide approach, in which the entire production chain is important from farm to factory. There must be a good connection between the various actors in the chain and each actor must function properly. Only in this way can a chain flourish and everyone benefits. The Fair Factory, with an eye for the community, is the pivot here, as a stable buyer, reliable partner and supplier of knowledge and services. So that, in the end, the underprivileged farmers and factory workers in Sierra Leone also benefit from the wealth of their land and so that the fragile but able-bodied Sierra Leone grows economically.” Go to https://www.woordendaad.nl/nieuws-en-verhalen/hoe-de-eerste-sapfabriek-van-sierra-leone-haar-vruchten-afwerpt/ for more information.

Sierra Agra Goes Organic

On August 31st, 2018, the Control Union produced receipt of Sierra Agra production’s Organic Certification. Around 340 metric tons will be exported to the EU at circa $1,100 organic pricing. The delay in execution of these orders has been due solely to the need to present the organic certificate.

Sierra Agra sources organic certified tree ripened mangoes and coconuts from a network of over 3,500 smallholder farmers who source from approximately 190,000 mango trees. In 2018, Sierra Agra produced over 700 metric tons of organic mango concentrate. In 70 days of production, the company purchased 2,072 metric tons from its farmer network.

Organic certification of coconut, passion fruit and pineapple to follow, as well as BRC, Global GAP factory and other product certifications. Discussion is underway surrounding a potential partnership with Tradin Organic, “the global frontrunner in organic ingredients.” Additionally, Sierra Agra is finalizing preparations for factory audit and other crop certifications this coming January, 2019, which will open the company up to a broader and deeper off-take market and promote increased pricing on their behalf.

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Outcomes of the campaign to raise $1 million investment in Anchor Farms Model have the following implications on Sierra Agra’s commitment to Organic agriculture:

Pineapple farm growth from 200,000 plants to 2 million allows for approximately 130 days of organic pineapple juice production. Increase in domestic sales and blending new products.

Expansion of Sierra Agra organic passion fruit Anchor Farm from approx. 2,000 to 50,000 plants. Commencement of USD $2 million revenue stream eight months post planting. Double production partnering with multiple Sierra Leonean communities with Anchor Farm Model.

Launch Sierra Leone’s first commercial organic tomato Anchor Farm. Allows for new revenue stream through early dry season prior to mango. Proof of concept from planting to cash flow is less than eight months.

Press Release

IDH’s (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) featured article. Click  here  to see the full webpage.

IDH’s (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) featured article. Click here to see the full webpage.

Sierra Agra Inc. joins the Sustainable Juice Covenant and partners with Dutch co.’s IDH, Woord en Daad and Fair Match Support on 1.1 million euro grant program to train and expand its 3,500 smallholder farmer network

Sierra Agra Inc. (Sierra Agra) is the only juice processing company in Sierra Leone, West Africa, currently exporting organic juices and concentrates to the global market. Sierra Agra sources organic certified tree ripened mangoes and coconuts from a network of over 3,500 smallholder farmers who source from approximately 190,000 mango trees. In 2018, Sierra Agra produced over 700 metric tons of organic mango concentrate. The Netherlands based NGOs IDH and Woord en Daad have partnered with Sierra Agra and Fair Match Support (FMS) to launch ‘Juice Worth the Squeeze’, a two-year program aiming to train and expand the farmer network. As part of the program, Sierra Agra has recently become a member of the Sustainable Juice Covenant (SJS) - www.idhsustainabletrade.com/initiative/sustainable-juice-covenant.

The SJC is a global initiative to make the sourcing, production and trade of fruit and vegetable derived juices, purees, and concentrates 100% sustainable by 2030. Sierra Agra is the first processing company to join the Sustainable Juice Covenant.

Wade Watson, co-founder of Sierra Agra said, ‘Sierra Agra is excited to be the first organic commercial fruit processing company to join the Sustainable Juice Covenant. We source from over 3,500 smallholder farmers, of which 90% are women. Working with IDH and the SJS, we are more than excited to grow our farmer network and improve the lives of many through creating this important supply chain from farm to collection point to factory. We are the only company in Sierra Leone, West Africa, currently exporting juice and juice concentrates to the EU.’

Funded by IDH and Woord en Daad, Juice Worth the Squeeze is a training and expansion program directed at improving the farming skills and income of Sierra Agra’s farmer network. Sierra Agra, with the help from FMS and implemented by Jula, FMS’s Sierra Leonean local subsidiary, will manage the program. The program will include sharing proper tree maintenance, composting techniques, land clearing, mulching, early ripening techniques to extend the season, and supplying inputs such as seeds, organic fertilizer and irrigation solutions. The program will train farmers on how to manage pesticides whilst keeping the mango crop organic. Another goal of the comprehensive training program is to transfer knowledge from commercial agronomists that specialize in tropical fruits to the 3,500 farmers stretched throughout many districts and communities in Sierra Leone.

IDH expects to produce an independent Service Delivery Model (SDM) and aims to track how the social and economic impact training will improve the lives of the local farmers.

Sierra Agra’s farmer network is made up of approximately 90% women farmers. Sierra Agra provides 60 collection points where farmers bring their organic mangos for sale. The company has a contract with each farmer and maintains both a database with correspondence and an Internal Quality Control System. A large percentage of the farmer network has gone through an audit by EU based Control Union which lead to the official certification of organic mango. Additionally, Sierra Agra’s recent Organic certification results in higher sales prices.

Rachel Cobb, Communications Director and project leader for Sierra Agra, recently facilitated the first set of meetings between Fair Match Support and several of the Sierra Agra farmer groups. “We met with hundreds of farmers well ahead of the mango season and the feedback was tremendous. It was encouraging to hear the impact Sierra Agra’s investment has made on each community. It’s important to recognise that although farmers aren’t satisfied with the quantity of mango sales, they are happy with supplying Sierra Agra and grateful for the opportunities to sell larger volumes. The quality of life has drastically improved for the farmer group due to receiving bulk income. The majority of money being spent is going to their children’s education. This program would give more responsibilities to our full-time extension workers and would mean there is more Sierra Agra presence in the field on a regular basis,” said Ms. Cobb.


The initial focus group type meetings provided a baseline for findings and feedback. During the first week of meetings, farmers expressed that the income from mango goes towards school fees, books, pens and uniforms.  The only source of bulk income the farmers receive is during the approximate 75-day mango season from mid-April through the end of June. Historically, local traders buy their mango at a better price but at a much lower volume and often on loan. Subsequently, often their reason for failure to pay is that the mango spoiled on the way to the capital city of Freetown. Farmers expressed they have issues with fruit flies and pesticides and have requested training on how to avoid this in an organic manner. The farmers shared that since Sierra Agra trucks started arriving on a regular basis, they have noticed less mosquitos due to the fact that less mangoes are left to rot, and attract these and other pests. In Sierra Leone, mosquitos spread malaria, typhoid, yellow fever and other deadly diseases. Above all, the farmers say that mango is a reliable crop and that during mango season they can afford to buy food. None of the communities visited have ever received any formal training on mango farming and consequently there is room for improvement. To help, Sierra Agra will invest in tools for pruning and clearing land, empowering these farmers to enhance their work and in turn, their lives.

Juice Worth the Squeeze will initially focus on indigenous organic mango and organic coconut. Both are high volume commercial opportunities. The program seeks to double the size of the farmer network to over 7,000 farmers. Eventually, other fruits such as pineapple, passion fruit, orange, papaya, ginger and turmeric will be introduced to the supply chain.

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As the year draws to a close, Sierra Agra rewards Employees for their hard work

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Today at Sierra Agra we were able to offer our gratitude to the hardworking staff at our factory in Newton by awarding them all a Christmas bonus.  Since production started in May, the team have excelled in overcoming challenges faced by the late start and managed to achieve a successful Mango harvest. We believe such dedication should be rewarded.  Our strong team are the backbone of our company and we recognize each part that has been played. To each employee, we wish you a Merry Christmas and look forward to a prosperous New Year.

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President Koroma Opens West Africa’s Biggest Palm Oil Refinery in Pujehun

Workeers at Pujehun Palm Oil Refinery

The President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koromahas official opened the largest palm oil refinery  in the country and in West Africa at Sahn-Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District.

SOCFIN Company has invested over $US 130 million to reach this stage, planting 12,319Ha of hybrid oil palm trees and building a mill currently with a 30t/hr of Fruit Bunch(FFB) capacity and able to increased to 60t/hr
President Koroma says Sierra Leone is now for business.

Sierra Leone president urges foreign investment post-Ebola

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - Sierra Leone's president is urging foreign investment in the West African country now that Ebola has declined.

President Ernest Bai Koroma said Thursday great efforts are needed to restart the economy — especially the agricultural sector, which suffered most during the world's deadliest Ebola outbreak that killed more than 11,300 people, mostly in West Africa.

Koroma said he will seek foreign investment at an upcoming Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Turkey. He said Ebola is over in Sierra Leone, and he hopes to rebrand the country as open for business.

His plea comes after new cases recently emerged in Guinea and Liberia, months after they had been declared Ebola-free.

The World Health Organization says Ebola is no longer an international health emergency, but flare-ups of decreasing frequency are expected.

Sierra Tropical Earmarks Lugbu Chiefdom For Multi-Million Dollar Investments (AT)

The Project Coordinator of the Sierra Tropical Agricultural and Manufacturing Company, Romeo Patricio on Wednesday 25th March 2016 reassured residents of Lugbu about their multi Million Dollar investments and large scale employment in factory and pineapple farm that are expected to be located in that part of the country. Romeo made this gracious statement at the consultative and sensitization meeting held at the Sambuya Town Court Barray in the Lugbu Chiefdom, Bo District amidst thousands of residents including local and traditional authorities, landowners, district officials as well as national representatives. The event was organized by the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA). According to officials, Sierra Tropical has a subsidiary company abroad, Dole with several years of experience in farming and manufacturing in the Philippines and the USA.

“We are here to help the people under the Government Agenda for Prosperity as well as the Post Ebola Project” Romeo Patricio reaffirmed adding that “About twelve Thousands youths, women, men and other Sierra Leoneans will be employed, when they commence operations in farming and manufacturing of juice”. According to him, they will generate employment, improve livelihoods, provide better opportunities and improve on socio-economic growth and development of Sierra Leone. 


Romeo went on to say, the project will not only benefit the people of Lugbu Chiefdom but other Sierra Leoneans as well as job seekers of all standards. He maintained that, their company will conduct training for all employees in order to be able to work in their operations. According to him, after several consultations and surveys by experts across Sierra Leone, Lugbu Chiefdom was identified as the best for their agricultural productivity and factory.