Meeting the demand for sustainable fish
In September 2014, Oikocredit made its first equity investment of US$ 2.5 million in Yalelo Ltd, a sustainable aquaculture company in Zambia. Yalelo farms tilapia in Lake Kariba which is then sold on to the local market through a network of predominantly female vendors. With equity investments, Oikocredit provides Yalelo with access to capital as well as skills and expertise provided through Oikocredit’s equity team as well as an Oikocredit board member. Since its first investment, Oikocredit has subsequently made an investment US$2 million in Yalelo in the second quarter of 2015.
Oikocredit’s second investment was approved and disbursed due to Yalelo’s high potential and social impacts. Yalelo aims to set a new standard for sustainable fisheries in Zambia, benefitting the local population in the form of increased food security and employment. By farming tilapia in Zambia, the local population will have access to fresh fish, which improves diets as well as the economy. The Zambian diet traditionally relied heavily on fish, mainly tilapia, as a source of protein, but severe over-fishing has depleted stocks to the extent that the country now relies on frozen imported fish, mainly from China.
The company is well positioned to meet the huge demand for local fish, both in Zambia and in the region. Apart from supporting the domestic market and providing people with sustainable fresh fish, aquaculture will also support the local soybean* industry, which provides high-protein fodder for the tilapia.
Yalelo CEO, Bryan McCoy, explained that Yalelo’s vision is to re-define the aquaculture sector in Zambia and then to develop into the leading regional fishery. “We’re growing towards an annualized production of 8,000 tonnes (around 20 million fish) next year in Zambia, and we have already begun planning to increase to 12,000 tonnes thereafter. Oikocredit’s investments have enabled us to move rapidly towards these targets whilst making sure this is done in a sustainable way. We also see the potential to expand throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, as the regional markets show strong import-substitution and organic growth possibilities,” said Mr McCoy.
Currently, former Oikocredit director, Albert Hofsink, serves as a board member of Yalelo. Albert, with over 20 years’ experience in finance and risk management, as well as experience living and working in Africa, will provide Yalelo with extra skills and expertise to assist the company in meeting not only their financial commitments, but their social and sustainable ones as well.
*All soybeans used by Yalelo are non-GMO