Toronto, Ontario and Birmingham, Alabama, 20 June 2017 – The Kirchner Food Fellowship is pleased to announce that it has completed an investment in Tomato Jos Inc. Tomato Jos works with local farmers to grow tomatoes which are processed into paste for the Nigerian market, where tomato paste is a staple, with a $600 million market.
Tomato Jos was founded in 2014 to address the significant waste of tomato harvests in a country which is also the world’s largest importer of tomato paste. Based in Kaduna State, Nigeria, the company is one of the few local tomato processors in the country. They work with a network of small scale farmers to grow tomatoes, supporting the farmers throughout the growing season with credit, technology, and extension services. After harvest, the company purchases these high-quality tomatoes from farmers and along with those grown on its farm, produces paste.
“We are excited to welcome Tomato Jos to the Kirchner Food Fellowship’s portfolio. We believe the company is well-positioned to address major supply chain and productivity challenges many Tomato farmers in Nigeria face,” noted Faridah Ibrahim, 2016-2017 Kirchner Food Fellow.
“Tomato Jos aims to provide value to both farmers and consumers: we add value to farmers by loaning them inputs on credit, providing hands-on education, and promising to purchase their tomatoes at an agreed-upon price so that we can make paste. We add value to consumers by selling them high quality, proudly Nigerian tomato paste that is competitive with imports,” explained Mira Mehta, CEO of Tomato Jos. “So far, we have been mostly focused on the farming side of the business, but thanks to the Kirchner Food Fellowship and our other investors, we are now ready to forward integrate and launch our brand of retail-packaged paste. It’s a very exciting time for the company!”
In addition to Tomato Jos the Kirchner Food Fellowship is proud to be an investor in innovative businesses such as Lucky Iron Fish, a safe, cost-effective, easy-to-use alternative to pills for those suffering from iron deficiency; Green Zebra Grocery, a socially responsible convenience store chain focused on healthy and local options for customers, Till Mobile, a software company using SMS to address supply chain management deficiencies between small producers and large retailers and Kuli Kuli, a consumer packaged goods company selling healthy food products made with moringa sourced primarily from smallholder farmers in Africa and central America.
“Tomato Jos is a great example of how a company addressing supply chain challenges can improve the lives of small-scale farmers, while also providing a local, healthier and tastier option for consumers,” added Blair Kirchner, Director of Kirchner Food Fellowship. “We look forward to working closely with Mira and her team as they continue to grow.”