Zena Exotic Fruits (ZEF) stands out as a Senegalese enterprise that has worked its way up from a situation where most others would have given up. ZEF had its genesis in a garage back in 1986, but is now a well-known name internationally. ZEF was founded by Mr. Toufic Filfili and is now co-owned by his son Zoueir Filfili and daughter-in-law Randa Filfili. Previously, known as Unisali, the company changed its name to Zena in 2008, as homage to the only granddaughter of the Founder. The company was part of the early Senegalese Small and Medium Enterprises active in the processing of fruits and vegetables sourced out in the local market. With 29 cumulated years of expertise, the company has passed from father to son and has shifted from an early success to tough struggles and a restructuring in 2008 as a private limited company that now produces an assortment of juices, jams, and cereals.
Randa’s strong leadership and entrepreneurial qualities have won her several coveted prizes in the recent years, including INFODEV prize (supported by World Bank program) as one of the top African Women Entrepreneurs in Agribusiness innovation. ZEF sources most of its raw materials locally through farmer cooperatives to create a social impact. 90 % of the workers employed at ZEF comprise of women. Moreover, the company employs part-time workers, allowing women to combine their job with the family chores. ZEF currently employs 22 fixed staff (including management team) and a minimum of 20 interim staff (seasonal production workers).The company has also employed 11 people with hearing impediment and trained them to function as effectively as the others.
Over the years, the company attracted a number of small investors; however, ZEF wanted an expansion to their range of exotic fruit products but did not have the required processing equipment to do so. It was here that ICCO Investments came in with their support. The Investment support from ICCO Investments is used in financing of processing equipment in three production lines (juices, jams, and cereals). Besides, ICCO Investments also assist ZEF by providing facilitation of any future capital/debt raising with external parties to help the company’s growth, as well as monitor and evaluate the company on a more frequent basis, amongst others in the field of corporate governance
On the working environment, ZEF offers a non-discriminatory and healthy environment, while providing fair wages and full health benefits to its employees. With the investment support from ICCO, the processing facilities would be upgraded for the development of new products (e.g. new spices and exotic fruits jam flavours will be generated). This would in turn lead to job creation for more numbers of people, thereby, enhancing additional annual income for 1,500 direct and indirect households. At the end of the financing period 1,000 farmer households - through 5 cooperatives, including 4 women cooperatives - will benefit from the annual increased income.
Through the investment support, ZEF has also developed a channel in terms of communicating these successes and now they stand as the best example for other Senegalese entrepreneurs.