The “golden” tiger nut company
Two young Ghanaians have built a factory using locally made technology to produce milk drinks, cookies and other tiger nut products.
For an hour, Prince Oppong and his production team grind tiger nuts in a mill and pass them through a colander to separate the straw from the juice.
The juice passes through a holding tank for the extraction of starch, then through a pasteurizer to eliminate microorganisms and finally until bottling. In less than an hour, the tiger milk drink is available for consumption.
Tiger nuts (known locally as “atadwe” in Ghana) are believed to be a source of fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and minerals. These are highly regarded for their health benefits and nutritional value.
Despite these potential benefits of tiger nuts, the crop appears to be under-exploited and under-utilized in Ghana, as most people find pleasure in chewing nuts only for various benefits.
Prince and his classmate, Sampare Owusu Banahene, challenged themselves to change the tiger nut story.
“One day after classes at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) I saw a woman selling tiger nuts, so I wondered why do we only sell raw nuts and turn them into milk. . I thought you could get milk drinks out of it because when you chew it, it makes milk.
As a science student studying BSc lab technology, I started researching this, and that was in 2017, ”said Prince.
So in 2018, the 24-year-old friends started producing tiger milk drinks using local technology. “There are a lot of challenges in Ghana and every challenge solved is a business,” Prince noted.
Excited about the potential of owning a business, Prince and Sampare decided to spend their school vacations on campus, so they could do more research. From their research, they also realized that tiger nut straw could be used for cookies, so they started to prototype it.
With their pocket money and the help of the families, Prince and Sampare rented a space from the director of their students’ hostel and renovated it into a production unit with a small laboratory and little equipment.
They noted that the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) gave them approval, after inspection, to operate a cottage industry, which gave rise to their company, Tiger House Limited.
The Game Changer: a philanthropist to the rescue
Production, Prince said, began to get overwhelming, as people off campus in nearby towns took notice of the drinks and cookies and began placing orders.
This meant that they had to set up a larger factory to be able to meet the demand. Fortunately, this was a time when they were finishing their first degree and really needed a “savior.”
“One day we received a call from a certain professor David Kofi Essumang, dean of physical sciences, then at UCC. He said he bought our products and decided to look for us. He invited us to his office and asked how he could help.
We told him we needed a bigger workspace and he promised to help us. Really, he built this great factory for us, ”said Prince Oppong, co-founder of Tiger House.
The large factory was ready in 2019 and needed to be equipped. It was then that the young partners saw the Youth Innovation for Sustainable Development (YISD) Challenge, announced by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the National Youth Authority seeking to support innovative ideas from young people. Fortunately, their candidacy was successful.
“The grant was sent by God and made it possible. We were able to complete our production line by working with a local manufacturer to make a crusher, washer, separation machine, holding tank, pasteurizer and cookie dough mixer.
We have also increased our production capacity from 100 bottles of milk drinks to 8000 bottles per month, and the biscuit from 100 to 4000 packs.
Our customer base has also grown and we now supply repeat customers in Tarkwa, Kumasi, Accra and Cape Coast, ”Prince explained.
For Prince, the business incubation aspect of the YISD Challenge was a good exposure, as he met other like-minded young people, from whom he learned a lot.
“Connection makes you feel like you’re not alone whenever you face challenges. Due to the YISD Challenge, Mr. Derrick Omari, one of the judges became our Director of Business Development without charge, always advising us ”.
Tiger House currently has eight full-time employees and five casual sales agents. They also have 60 registered farmers who sell them tiger nuts.
“Currently, we buy an 80 kilogram bag of tiger nuts from farmers for between 300 Ghc ($ 52) and 400 ($ 70) depending on the season. Today we have around 60 farmers supplying us in the Ashanti, Central, East and North regions, ”noted Sampare, co-founder of Tiger House.
“We were in the tiger nut crop, but the sale was taking a long time and was not profitable. Some of us stopped growing it and turned to growing onions and tomatoes until Prince and Sampare started to come and buy, ”noted a farmer, Mr. Kwaku Asempa, of Brenu Achim. in the municipal district of Komenda / Edina / Eguafo / Abirem (KEEA).
The company plans to expand and produce tiger flakes, tiger yogurts and spray tiger starch, all of which have been prototyped. According to Prince, 4 kilograms of tiger nuts makes 50 drinks and his straw makes 100 cookies. So they still have excess chaff that they need to dry out for storage and want to start producing Tiger Flakes cereal.
The two young entrepreneurs look forward to attracting more investors so that they can tackle their remaining operational challenges, such as obtaining refrigerated trucks to facilitate the transport of milk drinks and a fully automated line to extend the current shelf life of two. months of drinks. at one year.
With more partnerships, young innovators like Prince and Sampare can be supported to grow their businesses to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement and significantly contribute to the achievement of the goals of sustainable development (SDGs).