Godfrey Kou, Jerry Ntsekhe and Mahala Molapo are three African entrepreneurs who saw a need in their local communities and heeded the call for community milling in Lesotho.
But don’t let the term ‘community milling’ (also known as service or posho milling) fool you: it’s not to be frowned upon from a business perspective and can grow into a lucrative empire, as George and Godfrey Kou’s success below proves. Roller mills like Roff’s innovative Posho mill provide quality that’s very close to commercially milled and packaged meal – ensuring many happy, repeat customers.
WHAT IS COMMUNITY OR SERVICE MILLING?
Rural regions consume a significant share of the maize meal in Africa, since it’s a staple food. But with unstable maize prices and high transport costs, rural maize meal prices are increasing. This is a worrying situation, but it can be addressed: reducing input costs will keep consumer prices down.
Community milling basically means bringing the mill to the community to keep costs as low as possible. Since Roff’s Posho mill is so compact, it can be installed almost anywhere, giving small-scale milling entrepreneurs the opportunity to provide a service to their local communities whilst generating a profitable income.
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GODFREY PHEELLO KOU
Godfrey is the son of the late George Kou, who started his relationship with Roff in 1994 when he bought his first Roff machine – a MK1 Roller Mill (an early type of Posho mill).
Godfrey recalls his father arriving with the mill on the back of his bakkie, attracting a lot of interest as nobody was familiar with roller mills at the time (hammer mills were the order of the day). Today, most of the mills at his 70 sites across Lesotho are Roff mills.
“If customers can get their maize meal cheaper anywhere else, they will go for it. Our meal is a lot more affordable than the pre-packed products,” says Godfrey.
A fact that has helped the Kou family built a winning business from community milling. “My father never stopped any project until he saw that it was a success.” remembers Godfrey. “Roff Industries has been very much a part of our success.”
Formerly a Central Bank of Lesotho employee, Jerry Ntsekhe decided to take up community milling in 2018 using his retirement benefits and free time. Aware how hunger threatened to ravage his country, he wanted to give something back to his fellow countrymen and make a difference.
Says Jerry: “Maize is the basic food that every household has in this country at any given time. Without it, people are facing terrible hunger.”
Jerry received plenty of advice from his cousin, the Honourable Mahala Molapo, Lesotho’s Minister of Agriculture, who’s been farming for a long time. Mahala also put Jerry in touch with Roff, being a long-standing customer himself.
Jerry is very pleased with his Roff machine and his milling operations. Partnering with the local villagers, Jerry ensures that their land is properly tended and cultivated. Come harvest time, he shares in the yield. As a result of this business model, employment is created for the villagers who are plot owners and also for the greater community. And no one goes hungry.
Mahala Molapo has farming in his blood. His grandmother was a farmer: from raising chicken, sheep and cows, to cultivating grains such as beans and maize.
“Today Roff has all these different kinds of machines, from hammer mills to big milling plants that can be up-scaled. I’d recommend that anyone who considers going into milling speak to Roff. Roff helped me, and they will take care of you,” says Mahala.
For more helpful information and guides on how service milling and the Roff Posho Mill can work for you, click here.