By Aime Ndayisenga & Immaculate Akello
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” says Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It takes more than just time and confidence for one to become famous in any discipline of life. Some will easily draw their pathways towards being a celebrity through their extraordinary sense of art and crafts like painting, music composition or even playing soccer! It’s not always that one finds his glorious stardom in agriculture, especially not in sweet-potato farming!
However, Clarisse Mulekatete, Chief Marketing Officer of a sweet-potato bakery: CARL GROUP, beats this odd in the male dominated sector, and stands out to define her path and fame in Agribusiness.
With both her heart and hands dedicated to the Orange Fleshed Sweet-potato farming, this young entrepreneur ventured in this field to maximize yield. After graduating from the school of agribusiness in 2014, together with her two classmates, Clarisse noticed a gap in the nutrition value of the food products in the market. She initiated an idea of developing value-added and nutritious local food productions.
This was the starting point of processing the biofortified orange-fleshed sweet-potatoes (OFSP), disseminated across the country by the International Potato Centre together with the government’s agriculture research hand (Rwanda Agriculture Board/RAB).
This idea had been prompted by the availability of the orange-fleshed potato and its high nutritional value that is unique to its kind. With this, they were assured of sustainability of the project as the demand and supply while retaining the value was guaranteed.
Mulekatete, now the marketing strategist of the revolutionary enterprise, finds a seat on the panel with a dozen of young agri-preneurs debating on how to explore the untapped potentials of African youth in Agriculture during the Young Africa Works Conference (YAW2017) of the Master Card Foundation, held in Kigali on 17th to 18th February 2017.
“Sweetpotatoes drew my pathway to stardom. You can’t imagine the joy and pride of being spotlighted as a youth with smart brain among the huge mass of youth in Rwanda. I invite you all to revisit your smart ideas and re-position them into agriculture. There is life, money, joy and pride’’ said Clarisse, the young star of the conference.
According to Alemayehu Konde Koira, the senior program manager at the MasterCard Foundation, young people like Clarisse are the hope for a brighter future of Africa’s development. “If young boys and girls could think like Clarisse and her colleagues; linking up their skills to agriculture and many other business opportunities, Africa’s next generations could not suffer from hunger” said Alemayehu.
Carl Group, where Clarisse is a pioneer among three other owners, started as a small enterprise specializing in making food products out of orange-fleshed sweet-potatoes. They now count up to six different sweet-potato based products including bread, cakes, doughnuts, biscuits, crisps and noodles. With this sweet-potato baking venture, the trio started winning trips, training opportunities, and conference vouchers from across the world.