What began with a conversation with a friend on Mount Kilimanjaro about the lack of dehydrated fruits outside of the U.S. has now morphed into another venture for Greenville’s John Constantine: growing avocados in Rwanda.
While Constantine spends most of these days working as the CEO of Greenville-based ARCpoint Franchise Group, he’s also begun a company called Love Avocado that is dedicated to helping Rwandans earn a living while also taking advantage of the perfect avocado-growing weather of the country in central Africa.
ARCpoint Labs, a national third-party provider and administrator of diagnostic testing for individuals and companies, is using its unique model to bring a variety of necessary testing to communities during the pandemic.
Constantine got the idea for the for-profit company while working with close friends Pamela and Scott Pyle, who organized the creation of a hospital called the Dream Medical Center in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.
An average rural Rwandan farmer makes $1 a day. One avocado tree could provide a $30 income boost each year.
When he’s in Rwanda, “the entrepreneurial spirit inside of me goes into overdrive,” Constantine says. Many emerging economies like Rwanda have opportunities for innovation. That includes agriculture. After some research, Constantine discovered that Rwanda would be ideal for growing avocado.
Currently, Love Avocado, which is managed by Constantine’s Umubano Group, works with over 350 Rwandan farmers. Constantine hopes the number increases in the coming months. The trees Love Avocado plants can be cultivated for years, allowing farmers to have a steady income, selling their products to domestic and international buyers facilitated by Umubano Group. The company also has about six staff in Kigali working on sales and operations.
“Our hope is that every tree that we provide to the farmer can provide $30 in annual income,” says Constantine, noting that the avocados grown are sold at market prices wherever they end up. Right now, much of the supply stays in Africa or is shipped to Europe.
Constantine says that an investment of about $500 could set up a rural Rwandan farmer with a job for life.
With its Buy a Tee, Plant a Tree campaign, Love Avocado provides an avocado tree to a farmer for each T-shirt they sell.
“We got to have big dreams,” says Constantine. “It would be amazing for you to be able to go into a Publix or go into … a Whole Foods or a Costco and find the Love Avocado logo.”