KENYA – Raino Tech4Impact, a social enterprise that leverages technology as an enabler to empower African communities, is helping fish traders to reduce post-harvest losses through its cold chain solutions.
Francis Nderitu, the company’s Founder and Managing Director, said that smallholder farmers and traders had decentralized access to the market and cold chains.
According to him, the new business Keep It Cool connects consumers and sellers by distributing fish products from small-scale fishermen to stores in Nairobi’s middle- and low-income neighborhoods.
“We are disrupting the fish value chain by introducing cold chain both on the production side on the lake as well as the business side. We make these cooling boxes affordable.
“Farmers or traders can access the cooling boxes for less than Sh500 (U.S$3) a week. With these cooling boxes, we are able to assure the quality of fish from the lake to plate,” he said.
He claimed that the creative solution lowers post-harvest losses, which in some regions, like Lake Turkana, have reached as high as 40%.
“By bringing this solution, we have been able to reduce the 40 percent post-harvest loss to about 0.5 percent,” Nderitu said.
The company uses the cool chain network to distribute over three million fish meals annually. In the upcoming years, they intend to grow this to more than 10 million fish meals.
“This is with the objective of making sure that nutrition is accessible to the urban poor. We have been able to package fish well and by the introduction of cold chain, it has been accessible to the urban poor through affordable prices,” Nderitu said.
Raino Tech4Impact works hand in hand with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a non-profit organization that tackles malnutrition, to ensure quality.
“We are also a member of the SBN network where we have a peer-to-peer platform to learn from other companies that were there.
“The quality process has been good, we have been able to introduce new ways of quality assurance in the fish value chain and that is how we have been able to scale this platform without major issues in terms of food safety,” Nderitu said.
Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network Senior Associate at GAIN Maureen Muketha said they partner with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to deliver safe and nutritious foods.
“We support SMEs in nutritious food value chains in developing profitable business models and sustainably bringing nutritious and safe food to market through the Marketplace for Nutritious Foods approach,” she said.
The company received support from GAIN under the Keeping Foods Markets Functioning Project in order to strengthen its ability to withstand the Covid-19 crisis and enhance the availability of fresh fish to low-income markets.
The funds were used for microbiological analysis, equipment purchases, packaging, and business expansion, reports The Star.
The funds protected the company from pandemic-related business disruptions and allowed it to enhance the production and distribution of fresh fish items aimed at low-income neighborhoods.
Muketha stated that GAIN and Raino Tech4Impact have teamed to optimize the value chain for fish and related goods, making them safe, accessible, and cost-effective for consumers.
“Raino Tech4Impact is keen on eliminating middlemen by providing end-to-end cold chain support to fishermen and resellers in low-income areas within Nairobi.
“Through the Keeping Foods Markets Working Project, we have provided funding to the company to increase their resilience and supply of fresh fish produce to the low-income markets,” she said.