Niger regularly records some of the highest malnutrition and mortality rates in the world—with more than 40 percent of children under 5 years of age suffering from chronic malnutrition—due to protracted food insecurity and prevalent infectious diseases. One solution is eggs, an inexpensive source of high-quality protein. But Niger has a shortfall of 200 million eggs, leading the country to depend heavily on imported eggs from neighboring Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria.
In 2014, Belgian investor Mr. Guy Van Kesteren sought advice from the USAID West Africa Trade and Investment Hub on investing in AviNiger, a poultry farm in Niger to boost local egg and meat production. The Trade Hub connected him with impact investor Injaro, a private equity fund that invests in agricultural businesses in West Africa, (including a pineapple exporter in Ghana with the Trade Hub’s facilitation in 2016).
Through its Technical Assistance Support Partnership Agreement with Injaro, the Trade Hub financed project planning support to AviNiger, enabling both parties to address risk and viability gaps that would have slowed down the investment facilitation process. Injaro worked closely with AviNiger to develop a realistic timeline for construction of the poultry houses, feed mill, siloes and administrative offices, followed by a detailed workflow map that listed individual steps and their budgets. Lastly, Injaro helped AviNiger complete documents to request competitive bids from construction companies.
In June 2017, Mr. Van Kesteren broke ground on a 5-hectare, $6.8 million plant outside Niger’s capital Niamey. Financing included loans for construction and equipment from Injaro and the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries, plus additional equity from Injaro and $1.1 million in owner’s equity.
“The aim is to increase the availability of protein-rich foods for lower-income populations in Niger,” Van Kesteren said.
After opening in May 2018, AviNiger will ultimately supply 38 million quality eggs a year to the Nigerien market. By producing locally, the company will have a clear competitive advantage over importers: Eggs are bulky and fragile, making their transport more complicated and imported eggs more expensive than other foods. The company’s operations will also boost the region’s cereals trade in maize and soya bean for poultry feed.