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Affiong’s Secret Sauce

Building a business that makes a difference

A woman types on a keyboard at a desk in an office

Women entrepreneurs are a growing global market force, serving as a critical source of innovation and job creation, and fueling economic growth. However, they often face barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. “It was really difficult to get people to think that I was building a serious business versus a hobby or a lifestyle business,” said Affiong Williams.

Women Can Lead

Five years ago, Affiong started her own business, ReelFruit. With passion and drive, she’s grown it into one of the leading dried fruit and nut companies in Nigeria today.

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She turned her vision of starting her own business into reality.

Affiong is employing a team of young, hard-working people at her processing plant and office in Lagos. One hundred percent of ReelFruit’s management and 64 percent of employees are women.

Her business is giving people the opportunity to make a living, continue school, and save for their futures—all along the supply chain.

Two women cut pineapples on a table
Two women look at a computer screen
A woman carries boxes that say
A person holds a large tray of dried pineapple slices
A closeup of a person's hands cutting fruit rolls into strips
A closeup of a person's hands adding dried fruit to a package
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A closeup of a person's hands packaging fruit in plastic bags

Today, Nigerians can find ReelFruit's healthy dried fruit and nut snacks in over 350 stores as well as in airlines, schools, and hotels across the country.

Rows of packaged fruit hanging up on a wall display
A box of packaged fruit
Two men load a truck with boxes of packaged fruit
A man stands in a field holding a pineapple

Affiong is also keen on improving lives in rural communities. Her agribusiness sources from smallholder farmers in Nigeria, providing a reliable market for their produce. Not only do they earn more, but they enjoy a steady income by working directly with Affiong.

“(ReelFruit) has helped improve the lives of the workers on the farm,” says Elaya Wajah Deyaney, a pineapple farmer outside Lagos.

A man cuts a pineapple from a low bush
A woman in a sports jersey looks off-camera and smiles

As her business grew, so did Affiong’s confidence. Today, the avid sportswoman dreams of taking her thriving business to the next level. Through USAID, Feed the Future is helping Affiong reach her goals by providing investment consulting, investor support, and business analysis.

A man inspects packages as they come off an assembly line

Not many companies export finished agricultural products out of Nigeria, but ReelFruit is an exception and currently sells on Amazon.com.

With access to investment tools, Affiong plans to take her company even farther, creating more jobs and opportunities. She aims to sell her products in more markets, and increase the demand from smallholder farmers—putting more money in their pockets.

“I believe it’s companies like ReelFruit,” she says, “who are moving Nigeria forward in terms of creating jobs, buying raw materials from smallholder farmers, reducing unemployment and most importantly reducing poverty.”

Affiong is proof that women entrepreneurs like her can serve as catalysts for innovation, job creation, and economic growth, transforming their communities and countries.

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About this Story

Feed the Future, through USAID, launched the Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs Award in 2017 to help women in Africa take their businesses to the next level. The prize includes consulting services, investor matchmaking support, and business analysis so women-owned, Africa-based companies can continue contributing to job creation and economic growth in their countries.

In 2017 alone, Feed the Future helped 458,000 women around the world access agriculture-related credit, including more than $80 million in rural loans. We’re empowering women like Affiong turn their dreams into reality for a better tomorrow.

Photos by Bobby Neptune for USAID