Addressing the problems of poverty and hunger in developing countries has traditionally been the work of government agencies and development organizations. However, increasingly, private sector organizations are actively involved in creating solutions. WorldFish has partnered with several private-sector organizations to create a win–win scenarios for both the businesses and the communities who rely on fish for their livelihoods.
Mohammed Gouda, an engineer and businessman, pioneered a fish farming business in 1984 in the Fayoum Province south of Cairo, Egypt. By 1993, there were enough fish farmers in the region for Gouda to establish a collective. In 1998, Gouda partnered with WorldFish on training for his collective.
“Training is very important,” explains Gouda, “we did training, and then together we made a trial farm here on how to increase production and improve species of tilapia.” The genetic improvement program is now in its tenth breeding generation and Gouda expects the program to continue with WorldFish input. The focus will be on developing fast-growing and disease-resistant varieties for improved yield.
"Private investment into sustainable aquaculture enterprises in developing countries is a business opportunity with potential to contribute significantly to reducing hunger and poverty." - Mike Velings, A-Spark Good Ventures"
For Gouda, there’s no conflict of interest between his business and not-for-profit WorldFish. “WorldFish cares about sustainable aquaculture and the small-scale, private farmers making money,” he explains. With the support from WorldFish, there are now more than 100 aquaculture businesses in the region and the farming collective that Gouda chairs has grown from 26 to over 400 members.
WorldFish has also partnered with A-Spark Good Ventures, an ethical venture capital company based in the Netherlands. Led by Mike Velings since 1989, A-Spark Good Ventures and WorldFish became partners in 2011 after Velings heard WorldFish Director General Stephen Hall speak about the role that aquaculture can play in developing countries.
“My idea was that if we already have companies that want to invest in a good cause, why not in the sort of aquaculture development that WorldFish was working with?” Velings explains. “Private investment into sustainable aquaculture enterprises in developing countries is a business opportunity with potential to contribute significantly to reducing hunger and poverty.”
Together, the partnership has established Aqua-Spark – Fish for Good, an ethical investment fund that identifies promising small-scale aquaculture producers in need of capital. “So far it has been a real joy working together,” says Velings, who sees the partnership as complementary.
“A-Spark Good Ventures has business and financing expertise,” he explains, “however aquaculture is not an easy business and you need a lot of knowledge. WorldFish has that knowledge.”