A few days after I published 50 lucrative business opportunities in agriculture, I stumbled upon this article on how one woman, a chemical engineer by profession, started a bean flour production company back in 2010. The following day, after I read the article, I received a call from someone who had read the agriculture business ideas article and was particularly interested in starting a bean flour production company. Smart choice, I said.
Bean flour processing is among the most underutilized business ideas in Agriculture. Call up someone you know and ask them what they know about agriculture and the first thing you are most likely to hear is poultry, fish farming or any of the more popular branches of agro-business. The result is that such things as poultry are usually over-flogged while the less popular ones like bean flour production receive little attention. Yet this business opportunity has the potential to be more lucrative than most of the popular ones.
Some Nigerian entrepreneurs have realized the earning potentials of bean flour production and are quickly tapping into this money spinner. Companies like Ayoola Foods and Janeland Limited are changing the way people think about processed flour foods, much to their many profits and customer satisfaction.
Is bean flour production worth a shot?
The short answer is Yes! Here is the reason.
Beans is a good and affordable source of protein, used in preparing akara (bean balls/bean cake), ‘danwake’ (bean dumplings) and moi-moi (bean pudding). The preparation process for these foods is usually long and stressful; the bean seeds are sorted, dehulled, ground, etc before the main cooking begins. Some women, to prepare akara for breakfast, spend the previous day just preparing the bean seeds.
Bean flour eliminates all the stress in preparation, saving time, energy and cost. The demand is huge – think of all the families having rice and moi-moi for dinner.
Another reason is, bean flour has a long shelf life. The problem with bean paste is: you prepare only what you need for the moment. Using bean flour, you can make moi-moi anytime you want without having to run to the mill all the time. In case you are wondering, here is a whole article on how to prepare moi-moi using bean flour.
Of course, the debate has always been: is bean flour as nutritious and effective in foods as bean seeds? The answer is a resounding YES, according to Mark A. Uebersax and Mary E. Zabik of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University. Here is an excerpt:
Navy, pinto and black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) were dry roasted in a solid-to-solid heat exchanger, dehulled by air aspiration, pin-milled and air-classified to yield whole, hulls, high protein, and high starch flour fractions…All flour fractions retained stability during conventional storage protocols. Quality attributes of foods incorporating fractions were objectively and subjectively evaluated. Acceptable cookies, donuts, quick breads and leavened dough were produced using high fiber or high protein fractions at moderate levels of substitution (20%) for wheat flour. Source – Processing and Use of Dry, Edible, Bean Flours in Foods
How to Start Bean Flour Production
First, you decide how you want to start – small, medium or large-scale. For small and medium scale, you can start anywhere, anytime with a little amount of money. You will sweat a bit, though, because of the manual nature of the work involved. This is usually not a big deal for the hardworking entrepreneur. To start big scale, some machinery is required.
While the cost of machinery could be overwhelming for a beginner, I always advice people to go for locally fabricated machines. There are engineers who can make these machines at a fraction of the cost and with as much efficiency. Information about these fabricators, the type of machines you will need and what they cost are made available in the e-book accompanying this article.
Basically, there are 3 stages in bean flour production:
- Pre-Processing: This involves getting raw materials (bean seeds) to start with. Brown and white Beans which are the main raw materials for beans flour are mostly available and grown in the northern parts of Nigeria. You need to make sure that the varieties you use are strong and free from weevils infestation.
- Processing: The difference between making bean flour and preparing bean seeds for immediate use is drying. Processing involves sorting (removing the stones and chaff), dehulling (removing the outer layer), drying, milling and sifting.
- Packaging: How you package is entirely up to you. The more creative your branding and packaging, the better. Google ‘bean flour’ and see some of the ways other brands are packaged, then improve on that to create your unique brand.
The step-by-step process of bean flour production is explained in the e-book accompanying this post. You will also learn how to get the best quality and what to do to prevent loss.
Business Opportunity – Where to Sell
You can package your finished product and sell to local shops, markets and local restaurants.
Alternatively, you can produce in bags and supply, wholesale, to small-scale traders who would package and sell in smaller quantities.
Exportation is a big deal presently. Apart from local demand, Nigerians living abroad also need bean flour to make their favorite foods. Exportation in its entirety is covered in this post.
Major Challenges to Look Out For
- Making the flour version of any food is usually challenging. The most basic concern is the ability of the flour to go back to its original and natural form when combined with water. You also need to make sure the finished product is of the best quality with high swelling ability and long shelf life. Look, people are already skeptical enough about using flour for cooking anything. One bad product and you hear some granny somewhere in the village shouting, “I said it!”
- Another major challenge is convincing people to ditch the mortar and pestle. This is a major debate already. I had a hard time the other day convincing one woman in my street that yam flour serves just the same purpose as pounding the yam itself. She refused to believe me. I remember she said something about the extent an old woman would go in accepting technology and she would go no further. Breaking into a market where your potential customers are predominantly old school is often an uphill task. But smart entrepreneurs like Ayoola Foods are already doing that. The ground is already broken and people are beginning to give it a second thought.
- The third and arguably the most serious challenge is funding. Of course, you can start small and upscale from there.
Plan: Prepare a business plan. You will need to determine the long-term feasibility of the business and a business plan comes in very handy when you need to apply for a grant or attract investors. I created this free online course to teach you just how to create your own business plan.
Image Credit: Livestrong.com
About the E-book/Business Guide
Every information you need to start bean flour production business – from start to finish – is covered in this e-book. It is more detailed than any article can ever be and it is the very first information material that covers the bean flour production in its entirety.
I realized so much more is needed than an article can contain. Most people need a comprehensive business plan, something that answers every question and provides all the missing pieces of the puzzle.
That is exactly what I have done in this e-book. It is a comprehensive instruction manual, a business guide and a business plan all rolled into one.
With this information guide, writing your business plan becomes easier and faster. You can apply for grants and loans, you can do basically anything you want with it. To get a detailed overview of what this e-book covers, click here.
Format: PDF (53 pages) | Price: #7,000
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To get a detailed overview of what this e-book covers, click here.