Who we are
In 2016, GAFCo acquired Quality Food Products (QFP), a successful Tanzania-based farming company, and has used QFP's products, infrastructure, and staff as a platform for constructing a new business that equally contracts with commercial farmers and smallholder farmers, providing both with access to global markets.
GAFCo's shareholders, board members, and management team include highly successful business leaders who are passionate for its mission of serving the poor. We believe we are charting new territory, combining the discipline of the commercial marketplace with our heart that is dedicated to serving the poor. GAFCo's board has adopted World Vision's mission as its own:
“To follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.”
To fulfill our mission, GAFCo is governed as a profit-making enterprise, seeking to create shareholder value, subject to a strategic focus on geographies, suppliers, customers, products, and services intended to improve the lives of smallholder farmers by transitioning them from subsistence farming to farming as a business.
Most GAFCo investors are individuals who have previously supported World Vision as donors, but GAFCo’s shareholders also include the Small Enterprise Assistant Fund (SEAF), with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as a non-profit investment fund. Our management team includes highly accomplished business leaders from agriculture as well as other industries, several of whom are working as full-time volunteers out of dedication to GAFCo's mission.
"...to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness..."
From the gafco mission statement
Management Team Profiles
Sherrie Woodring - Chief Executive Officer & Board Chair
Ms. Woodring is responsible for leading over 130 employees and developing and managing key domestic and international partnerships to connect productive poor smallholder farmers to global markets. Before pursuing philanthropic activities to serve the poor, she co-founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of two successful information technology companies, VARCOM Corporation and Emprisa Networks, both of which were sold for considerable profit. She also served as Chief Executive Officer of Inrange, a publicly listed company. Ms. Woodring serves on the National Leadership Council of World Vision to provide time, talent, and resources to connect smallholder farmers to global markets to improve family incomes and child well-being. She holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. She works for GAFCo as a full-time volunteer.
TIM ANDREWS - CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
Mr. Andrews leads grant funding and partnership development with bilateral and multilateral organizations, academia, and media both domestically in Tanzania and internationally. For over 28 years across the globe, he has served World Vision in uplifting children from poverty through sustainable health, WASH, education, food security, and resilient livelihood programs. Mr. Andrews has been instrumental in developing World Vision Tanzania's Smallholder Farmer Strategy, establishing the governing Joint Steering Committee, and operationalizing the Three-in-One program. For eight years, he served as the National Director of World Vision Tanzania and as the Board Chair of VisionFund Tanzania. His role includes ensuring that GAFCo's strategy and operations are aligned with its board-approved mandate to improve the lives of smallholder farmers, and that its achievements are scientifically documented and marketed.
Olga Shuma - head of legal and human resources
Ms. Shuma is responsible for the company's legal and human resources functions. A charming, caring, multi-skilled people person, she has grown up in the seed industry all of her life. Starting her career at POP VRIEND Seed Company (Arusha), she further honed her legal skills at the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (UNICTR), the East African Community Secretariat, and the Resident Magistrate Court of Arusha. Her agricultural knowledge has been mentored for years under the umbrella of Tanzania Seed Trade Association (TASTA). She holds a Bachelor of Law Degree (L.L.B) from Tumaini University, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (PGDE) from Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI), and an Executive Masters in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (M ENTR) ) from Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI), and is currently pursuing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the Law school of Tanzania.
DR. JAMES E. VAN PEURSEM - CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER & DIRECTOR OF SMALLHOLDER OPERATIONS
Dr. Van Peursem was raised on a farm in Iowa (USA) and started his career managing a small farming operation growing primarily corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. Then he went to university and earned a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from Iowa State University. Dr. Van Peursem spent 22 years in the high-tech industry as a senior executive for companies like Motorola, Google, and Lenovo. He managed a global team of over 500 staff, oversaw the software development for all of Motorola’s mobile products world-wide, and managed a $200 million budget. He was also involved in research, strategy, business analytics and many other facets of the business. Jim has a passion for operational efficiency and continuous business improvement, and in 2016 chose to redirect his efforts toward the battle on global poverty. He works for GAFCo as a full-time volunteer.
solomon Kaniaru - head of production, lake zone
Mr. Kaniaru has over 15 years of strong agronomic technical and production knowledge in rain fed and irrigated horticultural crops. He brings considerable experience in production, agronomy, environmental management for sustainable farming, quality systems, internal and external audits against market standards, implementation of food safety standards, agribusiness management, and research. Mr. Kaniaru's broad experience includes responsibilities as Farm Manager in Kenya and Tanzania; Technical manager in charge of East African Wing; Production manager in different East African companies such as Finlays, Vegpro, Gomba Estates, and Frigoken. He graduated with a Certificate in General Agriculture from Pwani University, an Advanced Certificate from Kenya institute of Management, and a diploma in British Agrochemicals Standards Inspection Scheme (BASIS) in the UK.
OMBENI KILEo - HEAD OF PRODUCTION, north zone
Mr. Kileo brings over 10 years of progressive experience working in agriculture, agribusiness, and marketing research with both private companies and various local and international development organizations in Tanzania such as Farm Concern International, Dutch development organization (SNV), Intermon Oxfarm, and Friends in Development. In his role heading smallholder production in the North Zone, he applies his expertise in agronomy (soil fertility, crop disease management, crop management, post-harvest management and local and global market linkages), management skills, agriculture extension, commercial farming, agribusiness research, and social behavioral change approaches in the farming community. Mr. Kileo holds a BA and Masters in Agribusiness from Sokoine University of Agriculture.
Colton Rabenold - head of production, southern corridor
Mr. Rabenold grew up as a son of missionaries in the remote southern highlands of Tanzania, where he is now managing two commercial hubs, and speaks fluent Swahili as well as the local dialect. As one of GAFCo's earliest employees, with six years of experience in agriculture management, he was instrumental in building the business model that culminated in the acquisition of Quality Food Products in 2016. Before joining GAFCO, Mr. Rabenold worked for World Vision in both Tanzania and the United States. He is responsible for establishing new operations in the Southern Corridor, which contains the largest expanses of virgin farmland in Tanzania. Mr. Rabenold holds a B.A. in Political Science and Government from John Brown University.
Josh Brookhart - CHIEF STRATEGIST
Mr. Brookhart leads the company’s efforts in strategic planning, commercial fundraising, and developing strategic partnerships. Prior to joining GAFCo, he worked for World Vision Tanzania as Chief Advisor for Resilience and Livelihood, a volunteer position. He previously spent 14 years in China as a serial entrepreneur and Managing Director of TZG Partners, a Shanghai-based business incubator and investment firm. He was either founder or Chief Executive Officer of Tangula Luxury Trains, Fields China, Citylife China, QuAfrica, and Apastron Capital Limited, among others. He was also a consultant with McKinsey & Company in Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, Cape Town, and San Francisco. Mr. Brookhart holds an MBA and MA in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and a BA in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University. He works for GAFCo as a full-time volunteer.
ZAC PETERSon - HEAD OF OPERATIONS, MID SCALE and COMMERCIAL GROWERS
Mr. Peterson grew up in Tanzania, speaks fluent Swahili, and brings over 10 years of agriculture and operations management experience to his role as head of operations for mid-scale farmers and commercial growers. He is responsible for over 30,000 acres of contract farming for over 130 varieties of seed beans, white and yellow maize, sunhemp seed, safflower and sunflower oilseeds. Mr. Peterson also served as operations manager for Quality Food Products' oil mill extraction facility that produces over 500MT annually of sunflower and safflower crude oil for the European market. He holds a BSc in Ecology at the Florida Institute of Technology.
Heleen Van De Vijver - Head of processing, logistics & quality control
Ms. van de Vijver was born and raised on a farm in Tanzania growing seed beans, coffee, barley, and wheat. Before joining GAFCo, she had over 8 years of operations and production management in various business sectors including horticulture, real estate and hospitality. Ms. van de Vijver holds a BSc and MSc in Hospitality and Business Management from the Erasmus University, The Netherlands, and speaks fluent Dutch, English, and Swahili.