Chicoa Fish Farm: Story, Founders, Inventors & Funding Rounds
Chicoa Fish Farm was founded by Gerard McCollum and Damien Legros in 2015 with the vision to provide a blueprint for a sustainable aquaculture industry across Africa.
Since its inception, Chicoa has focused on securing its supply chain through the primary production of tilapia, establishing a breeding program, and developing sales and distribution channels in Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia.
The startup’s business model aims to address the lack of affordable protein in Southern Africa with the sustainable aquaculture production of tilapia.
Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish that play a major role in artisanal fishing in Africa. Chicoa Fish Farm is reported to produce more than 5 000 tons of tilapia per year which result in over US$10M of income in the local economy.
The startup has established a breeding program and developed sales and distribution channels in South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique.
In an aim to foster a social impact, Chicoa Fish Farm assists with increasing the income of local fish farmers across Southern Africa.
Chicoa Fish Farm is an innovative aquaculture business, built on Lake Cahora Bassa in Mozambique. They offer a profitable, sustainable, and scalable solution for Africa’s protein deficit: both through low-cost direct production, as well as acting as an industry catalyst for small-scale farmers in Mozambique.
The vertically integrated aquaculture business, is focused on securing its supply chain through the primary production of tilapia, runs a breeding program, and develops fish sales and distribution channels in Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, and Zambia.
While the continent has the resources to feed its population, most countries are net importers of food. Mozambique, for example, imports nearly double the value of fish products it exports.
Further, regional aquaculture businesses currently satisfy just 6% of the total demand for fish across the Southern African region.
In the face of overfishing and climate change, aquaculture, in particular, provides a means of availing a stable fish supply without increasing the harvesting of wild fisheries beyond the maximum sustainable yields.
Through growth, Chicoa aims to merge upstream, local supply of ingredients, and downstream to allow distribution and retail. In addition, Chicoa ensures sustainability by connecting smaller farms to tilapia breeding techniques to decrease reliance on marine products globally.
Chicoa Fish Farm, the largest commercial provider of fish in Mozambique also aims to accelerate the aquaculture industry and provide affordable, high-quality fish by increasing yields to offer a sustainable protein source and monitoring import substitution.
How it Works
Tilapia are particularly ideal fish for farming because they are naturally suited to cage farm environments and handling.
They breed well and feed on a largely vegetable diet. Chicoa has sourced a genetic mix of Tilapia which is one of the fastest-growing and best-feed converters in Africa.
Additionally, it has adapted to the natural environment of Lake Cahora Bassa, with its good temperatures, large water exchange, and high oxygen levels.
Whole Fish On Ice
This is the freshest way to take fish from lake to plate.
After harvesting, the fish are placed on ice and taken straight to the market for sale.
Gutted & Frozen Fish
With a longer shelf life, this is the preferred fish preparation for retail and industry customers. It is particularly favored in many of our export markets.
Frozen filets are preferred by hotels and catering businesses, including the large catering kitchens servicing the extraction industry in Mozambique.
By-products from the tilapia fileting process (heads, bellies, and frames) are one of the most nutritious forms of low-cost protein available in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Gerry is an engineer with over 25 years of experience in tilapia aquaculture in Africa.
Gerry worked for 15 years in Zimbabwe for Lake Harvest, Southern Africa’s first commercial-scale tilapia farm.
At Lake Harvest, he designed, built, and managed the feed plant and the EU-certified processed plant. He was also in charge of sales and logistics within Africa.
Damien Legros is the COO and co-founder of Chicoa Fish Farm.
Damien manages the fish programs on the farm. He trained in aquaculture research at the University of Liège.
In 1992, he started the tilapia farm in Zimbabwe that became Lake Harvest. For the last ten years of his involvement at Lake Harvest, he headed the sales and marketing department in Europe.
He has completed numerous assignments in aquaculture and fish marketing for EU programs and private firms in Africa and Latin America and has an extensive global supply network in the industry.
Investors & Funding Rounds
Goodwill Investments backs Chicoa Fish Farm with $1.5 Million Series A Funding to boost food security in Africa.
The $1.5 million Series A funding boosts the transition to its next stage of growth — the processing and distribution of frozen tilapia products.
To facilitate this growth, plans include extending production facilities, the installation of a processing plant, and including local small-scale farmers in its model.
At scale, Chicoa will produce over 5,000 tons of tilapia per annum, putting more than $10M of direct income into the local economy each year.
Goodwell joins long-term Chicoa Fish Farm investor and leader in sustainable aquaculture investments, Aqua-Spark.
Goodwell Investments is a pioneering impact investment firm focused on inclusive growth in sectors providing basic goods and services and income generation opportunities to underserved communities in Africa and India. The firm provides early-stage equity to high-growth, high-impact businesses.
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