Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on Thursday October 31st, 2019 presented Awards for Corporate Excellence (ACE) to Agilis-Partners, a US Company based in Kiryandongo, Uganda. The event took place in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the US Department of State. Uganda’s Ambassador to the United States, Mull Katende attended the event.
The Secretary of State’s annual Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) recognizes and honors U.S. companies that uphold high standards as responsible members of their communities and represent American values in the way they do business in their overseas operations and promote and uphold high corporate social responsibility standards in communities where they do business.
Agilis-Partners won in the category of Sustainable Operations for Small-to-Medium Enterprises. It is the largest grain and oil seed producer and one of the leading wholesalers of agricultural commodities in Uganda. It invests in local communities, sets high product standards, uses sustainable farming methods, pays competitive wages, and incorporates cutting-edge technology.
Speaking to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Amb. Tibor Nagy and Mr. Benjamin Prinz, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Agilis Partners at the event, Amb. Katende said that the significance of the Award to Uganda is in several respects. “It means that foreign businesses can operate fairly in Uganda and they can excel. Agilis-partners has illustrated that the regional market exists and Uganda is the perfect launch-pad for a successful agro-business. American businesses do not necessarily have to produce in Uganda to sell to the USA, they can make money by taking advantage of the regional market like the EAC and COMESA.”
Sharing his experience with Amb. Katende, Mr Prinz said that the business began through an idea to build a pig farm for an orphanage he was volunteering at in 2009 in Kampala. Prinz, a graduate in Economics from the University of Chicago, decided to start growing grain to overcome shortages of pig feeds. “Feeding the pigs revealed a unique opportunity in the inefficient grain supply chains: Streamlining East African agricultural supply could transform rural communities and catalyze a self-sufficient and prosperous African food economy”, he said. After spending 3 years sourcing financing and other US partners, in 2012, Mr. Prinz and a few family members founded Agilis as a private Company “to unleash Uganda’s food potential to feed Africa” under their Asili Farms in Kiryandongo covering 13,500 acres.
Mr. Prinz further informed Amb. Katende that over the past seven years, Agilis-partners has grown into the largest American Company in Uganda’s Agricultural Industry, employing over 650 people and paying them above average wages. Hundreds of East African food manufacturers, aid organizations and protein producers depend on Agilis supply to nourish 550,000 East Africans. Moreover Agilis pioneers conservation farming practices and transfers these methods to thousands of local farmers to help them achieve bigger harvests on healthier soils. He revealed that the Company plans to expand into value-addition by processing grain to the last stage of the value chain.
Amb. Katende commended Mr. Prinz for his Company’s fair and sustainable practices which have made the local workers feel that they are part of the company and called upon other US Companies interested in partnering with Agilis to join them.
Established in 1999, the ACE recognizes U.S. companies that promote and uphold high standards as responsible members of their communities where they do business. In his remarks, at the ceremony, Secretary Pompeo said of the honorees “..they serve as a powerful example of the character of our nation, for how to do business while doing good – a sharp contrast to how business is conducted in other places in the world’.
This year’s ACE winners in the Sustainable Operations category were Agilis Partners in Uganda and PepsiCo India in India. For Women’s Economic Empowerment, Chambers Federation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Procter & Gamble (P&G) Asia Pacific in Singapore.
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