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Africa Al’s Handmade African Sauces was founded by budding entrepreneur Alex Anyakwo who teamed up with wife, Lorraine, to create a range of cooking sauces and dips inspired by African flavours. West African curry paste, red stew, groundnut stew and a variety of chilli dips are just some of the flavours available from the company. Alex took inspiration for these recipes from West African coastal countries such as Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal. The company was initially run from Alex’s home kitchen in Bramhall, but with an increasing demand for his sauces, Alex had to find larger premises that would enable him to upscale his production capabilities -  the facilities at the University of Chester’s NoWFOOD Centre provided exactly what he was looking for.

Africa Al’s Handmade African Sauces has been based at NoWFOOD since June 2018. This dedicated food science centre has fully equipped individual kitchen units for producers to lease as commercial tenants in order to develop their business on-site utilising the facilities and technical support on offer to upscale production. Unable to meet growing demand from his home kitchen, Alex received support from the NoWFOOD team to increase his production capabilities. The company are now able to produce sufficient stock to supply their sales outlets and increase the number of markets they attend. In order to achieve this, NoWFOOD’s Kitchen Manager, Colin Dagnall, offered training to Alex on various pieces of equipment in the centre’s production kitchen. The modern industrial kitchen facilities provide a range of professional kitchen equipment including double jacket boiling pans, gas hobs, combination ovens, dough mixers, automatic filling and sealing machines, blast chiller/freezer. Colin also offered advice on product development which will help Alex continue to develop new products in the future. This support has been invaluable to Alex and his business. Alex comments:

“In my opinion, NoWFOOD provides a 5* production facility ideally suited to small artisan producers looking to upscale production. The support we have received from the team is outstanding. Colin in particular provided excellent support by providing training on professional kitchen equipment and offering his expert advice on product development.”

Alex was able to access this support from NoWFOOD at no charge via the ERDF funded Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme. The University of Chester is a proud delivery partner of this programme, which aims to provide local entrepreneurs and SMEs with 12 hours of fully funded business support. Alex comments:

“The one-to-one support that is available through the Cheshire and Warrington Business Growth Programme has proven critical to the expansion of Africa Al’s.”

As a result of the support Alex received, Africa Al’s increased their company’s production capability by 400%. Turnover also increased by 100% since moving to NoWFOOD. Now that Africa Al’s production can meet greater demand, Alex can focus on developing his business strategy. One area that Alex would like to expand is the company’s wholesale supply. This involves supplying to local farm shops, butchers and delicatessens, and NoWFOOD will support the company with these plans. The state-of-the-art NoWFOOD laboratories are able to conduct a wide range of routine testing, including nutritional analysis and shelf life testing. This service will prove essential to Africa Al’s operations as they actively pursue the wholesale market.