IMPACT investments are increasingly capturing the imagination and passion of younger investors, but one family has done more than just dip their toes into the asset class. Lam Shumei, daughter of the late successful entrepreneur and businessman Larry Lam, built a chicken farm in Rwanda from scratch in 2014, braving an arid bushland, unfamiliar business milieu and a host of challenges such as a small market size and high costs.
Today she can sit back and savour the fruits. Poultry East Africa Ltd (PEAL) has grown into the largest poultry meat supplier in Rwanda. It has broken even in the past three out of five years. It employs 70 people from the local village, works with over 30 contract farmers, and – best of all – managed to reduce the price of chicken by 50 per cent in dollar terms since the farm started in 2014.
This is a far cry from 2011 when in a visit to Rwanda, she and Mr Lam were shocked to find that chicken meat was the most expensive meat in the market, costing about 3,000 Rwanda francs (S$4.46) per kg, when half the population lived on less than 118,000 RWF a year, as recounted in the Business Families Institute’s (BFI) commemorative book.
”Chicken meat is supposed to be the cheapest meat in any market due to the quickest turnaround time. We felt this was an injustice that needed to be fixed. PEAL was established as a means to provide affordable and accessible meat proteins to a developing nation.”