Loan repayment period affects agro-processing entrepreneurs

Patrick Cole, a passion fruit entrepreneur of Wangu Holdings is an agricultural producer who grows pineapples, watermelon and now has a “sawa-sharp” nursery and other products which they process into fresh juice and sell on retail. “We make fresh natural juice, we buy fruits that we need also from other farmers that is what we use to make juice, and we do not sell foreign juice. We sell what we grow” he said. Cole said that they have done several layout of passion fruit seed farm in an area called Number 9 and have now expanded to Kenema, “we work on 20 acres of land and we are trying to secure over 120 acres as we have enough seedlings” he explained. On whether his business have been able to access finance, Cole replied that they are yet to access loan, “we made attempts but the banks are asking for 24% pay back which starts within 12 months, we are farmers if you grow passion fruits in Sierra Leone it takes six months from seed to fruit stage, and to do land reparation is the most costly aspect” he said. He further highlighted issues of cold chain process, transfer of knowledge, access to finance and acquisition and maintaining products. “We do not deliver our produce to supermarkets because our products are fresh so we go to offices and if we are called upon we deliver.” Chrispina Pratt who represents the Wonder Stove business explained that the market was not like as it is now as people have become aware of the invention. She is grateful for trade fairs that are being organised where they are able to showcase their products. “We started this business from personal savings from the income we get, we have never ventured into accessing loan facility from financial institutions because of the challenges that comes with such request” she said.

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