Sonoco Announces $50 Million Investment in Sierra Leone’s Flour Industry

By Foday Moriba Conteh

In a media tour held on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, at Bread Avenue in Willington, situated at the East End of Freetown, Mark Pritchard, the General Manager of Sonoco, unveiled the company’s ambitious $50 million investment plan in Sierra Leone. This initiative focuses on the construction of a state-of-the-art flour mill at the port, with a targeted completion date set for the end of 2024.

Pritchard emphasized that Sonoco’s entry into Sierra Leone signifies a significant opportunity for economic growth and development in the country, leveraging its position as the largest flour producer in Guinea.

Highlighting Sonoco’s extensive history and diverse portfolio spanning logistics, mining, and industry sectors, Pritchard underscored the company’s commitment to expansion and development beyond its native Guinea. With investments reaching Mali, Liberia, and now Sierra Leone, Sonoco reaffirms its dedication to fostering progress and prosperity across borders.

Beyond the flour mill project, Sonoco is poised to make strides in the agricultural sector, with two factories currently under construction in Wellington. These facilities will specialize in producing food items such as pasta and tomato paste, set to commence operations in early 2025, further bolstering Sierra Leone’s agricultural industry.

Highlighting the company’s local impact, Pritchard emphasized Bread Avenue, a prominent bakery franchise in Freetown’s eastern district. Bread Avenue, a flagship project of Sonoco, has expanded its reach to serve communities across the city, symbolizing Sonoco’s commitment to community engagement and empowerment.

The General Manger said that central to Bread Avenue’s mission is the Bread Avenue Academy, launched on January 29, 2024 with the aims to empower 90 participants with comprehensive skills in pastry, baking, and entrepreneurship over a six-month period for free.

“Students undergo an intensive curriculum designed to cultivate both their culinary skills and entrepreneurial acumen. Upon completion, graduates receive diplomas and certificates, endorsed by the National Council for Technical Vocational and other Academic Awards (NCTVA)and fully supported by the Minister of Technical and Higher Education” he stated.

Furthermore, Pritchard underscored Bread Avenue’s commitment to community service, particularly during Ramadan, through its zero-waste strategy. Surplus food produced by students at the academy is distributed to mosques and elderly care centers, demonstrating Sonoco and Bread Avenue’s dedication to social responsibility and community welfare.

As Sonoco and Bread Avenue continue their efforts to empower individuals and uplift communities in Sierra Leone, Pritchard reiterated their shared commitment to fostering growth, opportunity, and social responsibility in the nation.

Speaking to the press, Kadiatu Marie Akafor, the Head Teacher of Bread Avenue Academy, expressed gratitude to Sonoco for their support in establishing the academy, which aims to empower young people with comprehensive knowledge and skills in pastry, baking, and entrepreneurship.

She highlighted the progress made by the students within the few weeks since the training commenced, noting their ability to engage in pastry and baking activities.

Akafor emphasized that by the end of the six-month training period, the students will be well-equipped with the necessary skills to pursue careers in pastry, baking, and entrepreneurship. She mentioned that the academy accommodates 90 students divided into three shifts—morning, afternoon, and evening—comprising 30 students each. Classes are held from Monday to Friday for three hours each day.

Akafor also informed that the entire six-month training program is provided free of charge, with all necessary ingredients for practical sessions supplied by the academy.

Maliatu Jalloh, one of the beneficiary students, expressed appreciation to Bread Avenue Academy for the opportunity to participate in the training.

She shared her progress, stating that within three months of attending the academy, she has acquired skills in baking bread, rock buns, among other pastries.

Jalloh expressed optimism about establishing her own business focusing on pastry and baking after completing the training. She intends to use her platform to empower other young people in her community.

Imam Mohamed Lamarana Bah, the Chief Imam of Masjid Fatha on Maxwell Street, Wellington, commended Bread Avenue Academy for their support towards the mosque.

He acknowledged the surplus food donated by the academy, which was used to breakfast during Ramadan. Bah expressed gratitude on behalf of the mosque, recognizing Bread Avenue Academy’s contributions to their community.

Oladapo Coulson-Olowu, the Public Relations Officer of the National Council for Technical Vocational and other Academic Awards (NCTVA), highlighted the accreditation of Bread Avenue Academy by NCTVA.

He affirmed that upon completion of the training, students will receive diplomas and certificates endorsed by the council.

Coulson-Olowu emphasized the importance of vocational training in human capital development, stating that NCTVA is satisfied with the quality of skills imparted to the students at Bread Avenue Academy.

The ceremony concluded with a tour of the Bread Avenue Academy, during which journalists were guided through the bakery, the practical room, and other facilities.


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