BY NBM WRITER
Africa Plantation Capital won the Best Agribusiness Company of the Year Award by Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) first in 2016 when it surprised all by edging out the usual giants in both real estate and service industry.
With an amazing rate of growth, Africa Plantation Capital (APC) had succeeded to establish a strong footprint in Kenya in just over a year. It has ever since, it seems, established a stranglehold on the prize, winning it in the two subsequent years, 2017 and 2018.
It has not come easy though; APC has not wavered on its growth strategy for the East African region. Kosta Kioleoglou, regional managing director for East Africa with a team of over 150 well skilled staff that cover all sections of APC operations and over 200 casual workers, who give their best on a daily basis to provide top of the range plantation management services and to make the Africa Plantation Capital Group’s plans to become reality have worked around the clock to ensure APC’s and strategies yield desired results.
APC Group has been operating in East Africa since October 2015. Today, the group is managing over 400 private plantations, two arboretums, six nurseries, two processing units and five offices in Kenya and Uganda.
Without any doubt Kenya was the ideal location to start and the best crop to grow was Bamboo, which is a highly renewable resource with properties similar to that of timber, supporting green economic development, and thereby contributing to major national development goals such as Vision 2030.
Despite several challenges, Africa Plantation Capital Group has accomplished an impressive course in a very short time thanks to the correct planning, the right people and partnerships, according to the CEO, Mr. Kioleoglou.
“Our strength is our human resources. Around the world the group has over 2000 members of staff but we did not have to use them for our East Africa operations. I was pleased to find out that Kenya has amazing human resources that can easily cover the needs of small or large scale projects. From simple workers to highly educated and experienced scientists a company can find the right people to create a successful operation,” he said.
Agroforestry in East Africa is full of opportunities and Africa Plantation Capital team, the CEO said, is here to establish a brand name while creating a strong network and stemming out challenges currently faced by the global timber and biomass industries. Initially targeting to produce biomass for fibre and the clothing industry, APC is now expanding its horizons and exploits other sectors such as bamboo tea, bicycles, bamboo charcoal, the paper industry and energy sector.
This new expansion is to facilitate the group’s major investment into a forestry plantation sector that could be crucial in meeting the challenges currently faced by the global timber and biomass industries, as well as driving the quest for sustainable manufacturing and energy solutions.
The success of APC Group around the world is based on its business model. In order to increase uptake of sustainable manufacturing solutions, and create a lucrative value chain, Mr Kioleoglou says that APC has introduced a vertical production line where the company does everything from land acquisition, seedling propagation, land preparation, plantation management all the way to harvesting, processing, marketing and sales for the final product.
“We prefer to grow a crop that gives us the option of diversified end products that can target different markets. Bamboo, for example has several uses from flooring to food, construction, activated carbon, biofuel up to fibre for the textile industry,” he says.
In East Africa, APC is focusing on developing Bamboo plantations. “Bamboo is a sustainable grass with several product uses. While setting up our plantations, we are also getting ready to set up the required processing facilities. International brands such as Bootex, Boorider and ecotech are creating a demand for our bamboo products. The group is ready to manage the biomass produced in Kenya and bring it to the rest of the world via its international sales network,” says APC managing director, Mr Kelvin Kaloki.
Other key factors for successful agroforestry projects, according to the managing director, are the size of the land and planning.
“Large-scale agriculture and forestry projects anywhere in the world, and the same applies in East Africa, are usually successful. But the size alone will not guarantee any returns. In order to make money out of a big project you need to work hard and plan a lot. A primary factor that needs to be considered is the risk involved. When starting, you have to see what the real expectations are. Short cuts are not the way to go. The investor has to be ready to spend in order to collect. A large scale project provides you the benefits of the economy of scales and makes possible the creation of an integrated value chain,” he says.
Dedicated to quality, Africa Plantation Capital is also ISO 9001/2015 certified by Bureau Veritas under international UKAS standards for “Quality Plantation Management”.
“The company has been awarded severally in Asia and Europe,” said Mr Kioleoglou, “but winning every year since we entered the Kenyan market has an extra value for us. It is the confirmation that all our efforts have a positive result and we are determined to continue towards a very successful venture, expand more, create jobs and a better environment.”
Combining local expertise and the group’s international experience, the CEO says, are the ingredients of the company’s success. Following only top of the range standards, Africa plantation Capital Group is here to grow and provide state of the art plantation management services. Not only creating opportunities for the company, but also for the private sector, bringing green projects at the centre of interest for the East African market as it leads the way in sustainable growth.