The Wood Foundation Africa (TWFA) has expanded its venture philanthropic investments in Sub Saharan Africa.

The Foundation is now a co-majority shareholder Enimiro Products Uganda Limited (Enimiro), marking its entry both into the vanilla sector and Uganda. The equity plus debt investment is alongside David Wright, the Founder of EPUL.

Enimiro currently works with approximately 3,000 certified farmers in the production, processing, and marketing of vanilla beans in Uganda. Enimiro’s aim is to create a sustainable, transparent, and fully traceable vanilla value chain in partnership with smallholder farmers and premium buyers.

This investment will support Enimiro’s growth and expansion plans, ensuring that more Ugandan vanilla farmers enjoy higher and sustainable returns. Farmers will also benefit from training and agronomy advice among other services from Enimiro.

Speaking at the signing ceremony held in Jinja, Uganda, Sir Ian Wood KT GBE, Executive Chairman of The Wood Foundation, said:

“We are excited about this investment as it will hopefully improve the livelihoods and incomes for thousands of vanilla farmers while advancing Uganda’s reputation as a premium origin for high-quality vanilla.

“This model of venture philanthropy is a long-term, intensive partnership which creates transformational change within economies and communities.

“We look forward to providing strategic, operational, and financial support to assist Enimiro scale-up, while also ensuring the economic benefits to smallholders continue to grow.”

David Wright, Managing Director and Founder of Enimiro, added:

“The Wood Foundation’s focus on improving the farmers livelihoods is an aligned vision.  Our joint focus is to ensure we are able to create fair and transparent vanilla supply chains.

“We believe with support and assistance from The Wood Foundation we can create win-win supply chains with a focus on our suppliers and customers in a practical and commercially viable structure.

“Enimiro, including our farming base, staff and customers are excited to partner with The Wood Foundation to ensure we can scale and provide market security for our farmers and a stable supply of the highest quality products for our customers.”

Uganda is an ideal environment for growing vanilla as it replicates the crop’s native conditions on the Mexican plateau. Peak production and exports reached 300 MT in 2005 before falling due to low prices. It has risen again in recent years, reaching an estimated 200 MT in 2021. This makes vanilla an important crop for Uganda, with significant potential for generating export earnings, employment, and improved farmer incomes.

For Enimiro, vanilla presents significant opportunity for sustainability and smallholder resilience.  The crop is not only organic, but is intercropped with banana, coffee and other crops which are also integrated into Enimiro’s direct farmer sourcing arrangements. This ensures famers can diversify their income sources as well as maintain their food production while benefiting from vanilla’s relatively higher returns.