Page 4: Emerging markets
Cargill has been active in agricultural merchanting and consulting, commodity trading and food ingredient processing in Africa since 1981. Business activities include commodity trading - from cocoa and coffee beans to petroleum; breeding, production and sales of high-yielding, early-producing, disease-resistant maize and sunflower seed; processing food and agricultural products - cotton, rice and vegetable oil for cooking; warehousing and distributing food and agricultural products.
Cargill’s African investments span ten countries across the continent. Twenty offices and facilities in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe today employ some 2,500 people, including more than 1,500 seasonal employees. Cargill’s approach in Africa has been to start on a small scale. The business may be seed research and production, basic processing or trading. The company uses this initial investment to learn about the market as well as the social, political and economic environments. The strategy is to reinvest the profits from the businesses so they can grow over a time scale suitable to Cargill as well as the needs of customers in the host country.
Cargill is committed to developing and providing the necessary skills for basic human needs and to contribute to national economic growth. It seeks to invest within countries in which these skills are allowed to operate productively. Increasingly, markets have been developing in Africa based on principles of free enterprise, rather than government managed prices and production. In recent years, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have only been prepared to provide finance to governments which are prepared to allow free markets to develop. As a result, Cargill has looked at opportunities for development in Africa in a far more positive light. It has sought to set up new businesses in areas where healthy new market conditions are taking hold.
Helping to generate sustainable development
Cargill believes that sustainable economic development can be achieved in Africa, if governments, international agencies, aid organisations and private sector companies work together and appreciate each others’ contributions. The role of companies like Cargill and others in the private sector is to serve as agents of economic development. Companies perform best when they have economic incentives to inspire innovation or to lower costs, both of which lead to the generation of wealth. Wealth, in this context, means having the ability to send one’s children to school, rather than having to make them work, or to become a contributing member of the economy rather than being a subsistence farmer. The process also generates wealth that can be taxed to pay for public investments in education, roads and bridges or basic sanitation. By helping to create wealth and build stronger economies, Cargill promotes sustainable self-help and the means necessary to address many of the social, political and environmental problems facing Africa.