World News 10/03/2014

Marketing Africa's foods to Africans

Christiana Ebisi is on a mission to market more of Africa's foods to Africans. Through training programs in food processing and a new international cooking initiative that encourages entrepreneurial careers in cooking and hospitality using African foods, the Healthy Choice MPCS founder is changing attitudes about the revenue generating potential in Africa for careers in food.

"In Nigeria right now, we have an unemployment crisis," Ebisi said. "Graduates are coming out of school looking for jobs that are few and far between." Much has been said about the need for universities to train job creators and not job seekers and that is where the work of her organization comes in. "We recognize that not everyone is meant to work in banking or engineering. In the United States the economy enjoys a level of success above that of many African countries because of diversification of career paths. Food and agriculture, cooking and hospitality in a standardized way make up a large part of the American economy. Here in Africa, people don't immediately think of food being a viable career opportunity and so do not pursue training to the extent that people do in other countries. As a result, a significant percentage of locally made food products on the market suffer from a lack of variety and innovation as well as an image problem," Ebisi stated. "That is something we are changing."

The food organization founder and 30 year food industry veteran finds that Africans with larger incomes and high class tastes opt for a lot of foreign and fast foods because they want variety in both ready-to-eat and packaged foods and because they have little time to cook meals at home. "Many African food producers are not always knowledgeable of international foods and innovative food possibilities and miss out on sales from the booming African elite," the Healthy Choice MPCS founder adds.

Ebisi's organization has been providing value in the African marketplace since 2009 by creating entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for women, youth and farmers through food skills training. “We have focused our training on how to produce popular Nigerian and international food items in home kitchens, selling wholesale, door-to-door and most importantly, using local food resources for production,” Ebisi stated. Healthy Choice MPCS focuses attention on the economic and self employment potential in the growing food sector in Africa by giving Africans an opportunity to get a piece of the growing food market which upper class Africans patronize. "We have been exposing more Africans to innovation in food processing, preparation and careers to help change the employment landscape for the better," she added. "The more often foods grown in Africa are utilized for a continent based food industry, the more people in Africa can maximize the use of their food resources for economic gain."

The organization founder, Christiana Ebisi, continues to improve the economic landscape of Africa through the use of food resources as she has devoted her career to the food industry. Ebisi is a dietician and nutritionist of the University of Wisconsin, U.S.A. With over 30 years of experience in the American food and restaurant industry, Ebisi is also a U.S.A. trained Food and Agriculture Extension Services professional. As a cultural foods enthusiast Christiana has expertise in Chinese, Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Mexican, Vegetarian, ECOWAS, and Pan-Nigerian cuisines, among others, which she uses for business, hobby and entertaining. Ebisi has owned and operated her own restaurants and catering businesses in Oregon and New York. In addition she has owned and operated American based African foods import companies which enabled her to introduce many traditional African foods to the U.S.A, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. In 1986 Christiana helmed the United Nations sponsored African Foods Research that took her to several countries across West and Central Africa to document Africa’s many foods.

di S. C.