The turbulent history of gebana Afrique

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In 2000, gebana AG was looking for dried mangos for a chocolate bar. We found them in Burkina Faso, and just a short while later we were in the dried mango business ourselves. In 2006 we founded gebana Afrique.

Cashew processing in Burkina Faso

Between 2001 and 2007, the demand for dried fair-trade-certified mango was booming, and export volumes rose from 10 tonnes to 400 tonnes. gebana Afrique was soon established as a key supplier to many supermarkets in Europe.

However, in 2008 and 2009, the market collapsed. As a result of the financial crisis, the supermarkets were planning more cautiously, and importers were reducing their excess stocks. Demand fell within a year from 400 tonnes to 80 tonnes.

At the same time, the quality standards and margins dropped. In 2010, just as the market was slowly recovering, another blow struck: The mango fruit fly pest was introduced into Burkina Faso and spread rapidly. Harvest losses meant that the driers were unable to supply the mango that had been pre-financed, and some even had to close, and so gebana Afrique lost the money that it had invested in pre-financing deals.

In order to overcome the challenging situation in the mango business, gebana Afrique invested in better quality controls and processes and diversified into cashew processing. These measures put the company back on track, and in 2013 it achieved a positive operating result at year end.

However, the problems continued. Traders from East Asia entered the market and bought huge volumes of raw nuts for processing in the Far East. This led to massive increases in the prices of raw nuts, which in turn led to losses for gebana Afrique.

The volatile formative years and the subsequent crisis, together with the continual pressure for more efficient production, higher quality standards and much closer cooperation with customers in Europe, demanded a change in the management structure. Responsibility needed to be divided between several specialist division managers. In order to implement this change, gebana AG took over the shares of its former business partners in 2016. 2017 was a year of transition which saw the new team settling in, processes being rethought and a new business plan being developed.

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