The International Finance Corporation and Dutch entrepreneurial development bank, FMO, have announced a €3m loan to United Exports Limited, to support growth, exports and jobs in South Africa’s blueberry industry.
The plan was disclosed in a recent statement from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.
“The €3m loan includes €1.5m from IFC and €1.5m from FMO. The financing will support United Exports’ ongoing capital expenditure projects and help maintain local farmers’ access to markets and employment,” it stated.
United Exports produces, packages and ships blueberries under its proprietary OZblu brand within South Africa and exports roughly 90 per cent of its output to markets outside Africa.
IFC’s Country Manager for South Africa, Adamou Labara, was quoted as saying, “With COVID-19 creating uncertainty across value chains and sectors, it’s now more critical than ever to support companies vital for job creation and growth, especially in the agribusiness sector.”
United Exports Chief Executive Officer, Jon Salters, said, “Despite the difficulties, we have continued our growth trajectory during the COVID-19 (crisis). The additional liquidity from the lenders will help us to continue with our capex investments and continue to create jobs and ensure we continue to deliver on our product quality objectives.”
The Manager of Agriculture, Food and Water at FMO, Hans Bogaard, also said, “The blueberry industry is one of South Africa’s fastest growing agricultural sectors. In berry growing regions, this superfood boosts job creation. With this COVID-19 facility, we will help United Exports maintain local berry farmers’ access to markets and employment.”
South Africa’s Western Cape Department of Agriculture has estimated that the country’s blueberry sector employs 5,700 people, IFC added.