Growing up, Annie Kapapula-Landu MBE, saw how nothing was changing for the cassava farmers in her home province of Luapula, Mansa District, Zambia. From a young age, it became her goal to do something to support the farmers and finally, this year she’s been able to realise that dream.
After taking early retirement from Barclays in 2010, she founded Three Roofs Investment Limited in 2011, but it wasn’t until later that she began her work with Crowd1 after being introduced by a friend. “I joined Crowd1 in December 2019.” she said, “A friend of mine saw how I was struggling as I left employment ten years ago.”
The money she earned through Crowd1 enabled her to take the 764.6km journey from Lusaka to Luapula to claim some land she inherited from her father, and to buy tools for the local cassava farmers. “It allowed me to get basic tools and go there to kick-start a whole project which I have been dreaming of for my whole life,” Kapapula-Landu said, “because I needed to show responsibility as someone who was looking for funding.” It was this, combined with $25,000 in funding from the U.S. Embassy through the U.S African Development Foundation (USADF), and Women's Entrepreneurship Access Center (WEAC), that really allowed Three Roofs Investment Limited to bloom.
Three Roofs Investment Limited is focussed on finding a market for cassava, known as yuca in some circles, or “white gold.” Annie already makes crisps, but now the byproducts are also combined with aloe vera to create hand sanitizers, a must-have for everyone during the current pandemic. Her mission is to help farmers in Mansa increase their production and capacity, and to expand their supply chain.
For the hand sanitizer project she buys ethanol from suppliers who in return have agreed to buy the cassava from farmers with Three Roofs Investment Limited to create more ethanol. Kapapula-Landu combines the ethanol and aloe to make her final product. Her largest sales target for the tubes of sanitizer is the Ministry of Education.
“My aim was to encourage the farmers to go into conservation agriculture and to learn new methods.The cassava tuber used to take two to three years to mature but now takes 12 to 15 months and can be as early as 9 months depending on time of planting and good agronomic practices which we are trying to encourage them to do so that in the shortest time they will have their yields.”
In February 2021, work began on a capacity building for the cassava farmers, with the eventual aim of training them in general entrepreneurship skills as well. Farmers usually don’t have a market for the cassava - so Kapapula-Landu’s role is to find a market for them.
Deforestation is another key issue for the farmers. Cutting down trees to provide charcoal for homes without electricity is a common practice in Zambia, but removing the trees increases the risk of floods, which can severely damage cassava yields. Kapapula-Landu was involved in forming a conservation club called Green Earth Zambia to encourage farmers to plant trees in areas affected by deforestation.
“When we have forests regenerating they will get better yields and there will be no more floods.” she said, “Better yields will lead to them (the farmers)having more income, and more income will lift them out of poverty.” Kapapula-Landu still works with Crowd1 and hopes to make it to Director level or higher soon.