Sunshine Update #3 – Project Sunshine Business and Community Impact

Posted by Donald Larson on

Project Sunshine greatly achieves five important development objectives:

The first objective is to significantly increase agricultural trade from Mozambique to the rest of the world. Sunshine Nut Company (SNC) is in discussions with major retailers in the USA, Europe, and Southern Africa. Retailers will have the opportunity to carry Sunshine Nut Company’s brand, a co-branded cashew item, and/or each retailer’s cashew store brand - right from Mozambique. Since we opened our factory in Mozambique in 2013, the retailers have been requesting that we produce their store brands as well as the SNC brands. SNC has declined their requests for their store brand production with an answer that the day will come when we can do both. That time has now arrived with Project Sunshine.

The second objective is to bring peace and prosperity to Mozambique. This is a project which will be proven out in both the Gaza and Cabo Delgado provinces. We are now expanding to the Nampula Province this year. We will continue to expand to communities in cashew producing provinces across Mozambique. A profound impact will be realized in each village where we locate a community farm/mini factory and pair up a retail partner. This impact will affect the livelihoods of 150 families per village (average of 900 people).

The third objective is to offer employment in a fair, redemptive, and reconciliatory way. This project will remove all feelings of being exploited. We will tie that community to a retailer in the world to bring pride and motivation. We will provide the opportunity for farmers to become entrepreneurs. They will expand their farm by 2 hectares, add value by using the mini factory to shell their cashews, and participate in an association to protect their interests. Sunshine Nut Company will provide the fair market by buying at market pricing (or above).

The fourth objective is to bring resources which have been generated through the sales from the mini-factories and the roasting factories to uplift the community further. There will be a building near each community farm’s village factory which we call a ‘Center for Transformation’. We plan to raise the standard of living in each of these cashew farming communities with services such as medical care, dental care, micro-finance, education, farming services, libraries, etc. Distributors, retailers, and other partners around the world can become involved in these transformative efforts. Many have foundations which align with these philanthropic activities.

Finally, Project Sunshine will satisfy the global mandates being requested for Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Criteria. It will have significant positive contributions to all these sets of standards. Regarding Project Sunshine, Environmental includes the project’s energy use, waste, pollution, and natural resource conservation. Social criteria involve business relationships such as donating a percentage of its profits to the local community and working conditions showing high regard for employees’ health and safety, and other stakeholders’ interests.

The Community Impact

The Mozambican cashew farmers are the focal point of this project and will be the greatest benefactors of Project Sunshine. Farmers will have increased income, ownership of land, organized associations to protect their interests, training and services for better farming yields, and services that benefit their families through the transformation centers and company store.

Just imagine with us for a moment. Dream with us for the people in the poor cashew villages of Mozambique. Think with us of what could be.

The current scenario…

The cashew farming families are among the poorest people on this planet. Their average yearly income is estimated to be $31 USD by BBC News and $33 USD by UNICEF.

They live in grass huts with dirt floors. Here are the photos we took of our Muchenguentava village farming families.

Their children attend schools in stick walled classrooms that have dirt floors. They sit on these floors because there are no desks. They have little materials with which to work. Few can afford uniforms. The village children only have access to an education until grade 6. Primary schools dot the land, but high schools exist only in higher populated towns.

They have little to no access to medical care.

The people live off the land, farming cassava, peanuts, and rice to feed their families. When it doesn’t rain or when the hot sun burns the crops in their fields, they do not eat.

In 2016, we hosted a team of professors and student from the Pennsylvania State University. We travelled around from house to house conducting a WHO Quality of Life survey. The final question on the survey was, “What are your hopes and dreams for the future?” We got one of three responses from people. Many just gave us a blank stare. They did not even know how to respond. Others told us that they have no hopes or dreams. When we did get a response to the question, 100% of the time they said that their dream was a job.

And now…let’s imagine their future… which is near at hand…

These families’ incomes will increase to an estimated $3400 if they participate fully, work hard, and the sell their cashew harvest to Sunshine Nut Co. This amount of income will increase to $4700 if they choose to first shell their cashew harvest in our mini factory using the equipment we have provided for them before selling to us.

Imagine the degree to which this income will enable the people to build decent homes to live in, provide uniforms and materials to their children for school, have access to medical care, feed their families…the possibilities are endless! With the income the families earn from the Sunshine Villages Project, they will begin to dream.

Currently, each village has a total income of about $5000 coming into it from the sale of their cashews to middlemen. When they begin selling their harvested, shelled cashews to Sunshine Nut Co, this will increase to over $700,000 (total of 150 families). We cannot wait to see the transformation that will occur in the Sunshine Villages.

In addition to the improvements that will occur as a result of increased family incomes, a portion of Sunshine Nut Company’s proceeds from the sale of the communities’ output will also be directed back to the communities to uplift the standard of living. We look forward to meeting the specific needs in the communities whether it be a new school, a medical clinic, or improved roads. It is a triple benefit – community crop income, foundation proceeds, and company donations.

While the trees planted by the families grow to full stature, intercrops will be planted by each family as an additional source of income. Food crops such as cassava, beans, peanuts, tomatoes, onions, and pineapple will provide for families and offer additional income. Other cash crops such as piri piri planted around each 2-hectare plot has the added benefit of staving off destructive wildlife that could cause damage and crop losses.

Each community mini factory will have two additional benefits for the community- a Transformation Center and a company store. Families will have access to programs at the Transformation Center that will be attached to each village factory. Here we will provide medical programs (doctors, dentists, vaccinations), finance programs to teach them how to manage their money wisely, and educational programs for farmers, children, and families. The company store will exist for families who participate in our farming program to purchase essential items for a subsidized cost. They can purchase basic items like oil, soap powder, or tea, as well as building materials such as cement, wood, and roofing materials for their houses.

The Business Impact

Project Sunshine will create positive change where it is most needed in the cashew industry value chain along with benefits to the farming families involved. It will also create positive changes and increased profits for our for-profit business, The Sunshine Nut Company.

The African cashew industry is in need of a business model designed to capture the advantages possible in the current African environment. The Sunshine Approach is this model. Our business model provides for an environment where growing, processing, and packaging can occur in the same locality. The labor conditions of Mozambique will be capitalized on instead of being a constraint to progress. The short season of selling will be spread out over the year by offering the farmers a safe storage space and a place where they can add value to their harvests by shelling the cashews themselves thereby gaining that income evenly over the year.

Removing Impediments to Profitability

Sunshine Nut Company will not benefit above and beyond what competitors are able to do in a similar situation. Sunshine Nut Company will be using an international market rate for the cashews when they purchase from the associations. When the Sunshine Approach Foundation is overseeing the project in the villages, Sunshine Nut Company will pay market rates or above for the output of the village factories. Any ‘profit’ from the village factories will be spent within that community for the upliftment of the families.

There are many steps which will be eliminated due to being located in-country. This will further improve the margin. We expect very soon for Sunshine Nut Company to dominate the cashew category in western stores.

Here’s to disrupting the status quo to usher in righteousness, fairness, morality, and an ethical framework.

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