From Hospital Bed to Business Plan: How Turkey Berries Transformed a Young Agripreneur’s Life

In 2016, Millicent Agidibo-Adoboe was diagnosed with anaemia and admitted to the hospital for about three weeks. Her haemoglobin levels were as low as 4.3, an indication that her blood was having difficulty carrying oxygen throughout her body and removing carbon dioxide. This necessitated a blood transfusion to save her life. However, while they sought for blood donation, the doctor suggested to his husband Bright Adoboe to supplement her diet with turkey berry, locally known as “Abeduru”. To his astonishment, the wife’s health improved, and her haemoglobin level increased to 8.6.

Millicent Agidibo-Adoboe, a food scientist by profession, embarked on a research journey of the turkey berry plant with his spouse, who is a chemist by profession.  Turkey berries are small tropical green berries with a bitter taste but many health benefits. They grow well in places with full sunlight. While they cannot survive beneath a closed forest canopy, they are adaptable to a variety of soils. The plant has many medicinal benefits including: the ability to relieve gout pain, regulate menstruation, reduce cardiovascular diseases, prevent cough and cold, and prevent intestinal worms, among others.

In a span of two years, the couple produced and processed turkey berries into juices, spices, teas, and other products. In 2018, they both resigned from their jobs to focus on their startup, and thus Achiever Foods was founded. Their goal is saving lives via improved nutrition, while also enabling women smallholder farmers to grow the fruits, boosting food security.

Millicent Agidipo-Adoboe (left) explains the packaging process of their different products to Amanda Namayi (centre) and Sophie Nabuliri (right).

The Generation Africa Secretariat led by Amanda Namayi and Sophie Nabuliri; visited Millicent at her manufacturing company in Accra, Ghana; to get  a glimpse of their production process. Ms.Agibipo-Adoboe emerged as a finalist in the 2020 GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition and proceeded to win the Impact Award for the transformation of rural women’s livelihoods while improving nutritional security. The prize money was then invested in procuring a sealing machine to automate the packaging process. Achiever Foods recently expanded their production and have new farms where they source the turkey berries. The startup has also provided over 50 women farmers an avenue for improved livelihoods in the agrifood industry.

Generation Africa team having a taste of the turkey berry coffee.

Generation Africa continues to fulfill its mandate of strengthening Africa’s ecosystem for youth agripreneurs by supporting them to successfully grow their agribusiness from idea to scale, providing continued support to sustain growth, supporting scaling of various agri-food opportunities, and linking them to opportunities to increase their investments. In the last three years, Generation Africa has invested over $520,000 in 42 African nations to support young agripreneurs to scale their agribusinesses.

Generation Africa team observing the packaging process of the turkey berry tea.

Every year, Generation Africa hosts two innovation challenges: the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition and the Pitch AgriHack Competition. Both Competitions provide a platform for selected top young agripreneurs with innovative business models to face off in an agribusiness pitching contest and winners receive a grand prize of $50,000 and a share of US $45,000 grand prize respectively.

Winners benefit from a myriad of opportunities, including but not limited to mentorship and coaching; funding and scholarships to pursue a master’s in Business Creation from the University of Utah in the United States of America, and an opportunity to join the Generation Africa Fellowship program.

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