The biggest obstacle in food security these days is the inefficient value chain due to the inability of many primary product producers to get their products to the marketplace in a timely and economically efficient manner in order to underpin a sustainable business model.’ BSN chats to Mike Fischer, one of our valued MBA students currently doing a major in Food Security through the EP-Nuffic scholarschip programme.
Mike works for Honeydew Dairies in the Midlands of Kwa ZuluNatal, South Africa, a company he joined in 2012. The business supplies dairy and bulk liquid products to the supermarket groups, in the FMCG Sector, throughout Southern Africa and for export to neighbouring SADC countries. The business is a major player in the sector and has developed significant brand equity, brand value and recognition in the marketplace.
Did you work in the food industry prior to joining Honeydew?
‘No, I didn’t. My skill set has developed around business turnarounds and business optimization challenges. These skills were the reason I was recommended to join Honeydew as their next stage of growth needed business optimization. I have previously worked in a range of different businesses across diverse sectors covering import and distribution of bulk chemicals throughout Southern Africa, the accounting profession as an auditor and as a management consultant, environmental organisations, the education sector, construction and property development, manufacturing in East Africa, and more recently the Honeydew experience.’
What made you decide to do an MBA and specially the chosen major in Food Security?
‘I believe the MBA will be a significant value adding experience due to the wide range of subjects in the program and will enhance my ability to help achieve Honeydew’s goals as well as my own personal ones. I have drawn considerable value from having chosen to do the major in food security as it has provided exposure to concepts and a global thinking in this critical area.’
How important is the emphasis on Food Security in the region – and the world?
‘Food security as a subject is crucial to create awareness and perspective in order to contribute to food production sustainability in the world. Global population growth is reaching a crescendo placing enormous pressure on resources of land, water and energy. The environmental impact is severe and thus more efficient strategies are needed in order to produce more and more food from an ever diminishing supply of land and other resources due to urbanization and population growth throughout the world, all these challenges have direct relevance to the Southern African context.’
How do you think the program – and you doing it – can make a difference?
‘I think the program will genuinely make a difference as the techniques and thinking, as well as the knowledge sharing skills will enable a significant multiplier effect to occur in the business environment I am exposed to as well as in all future endeavours that I’m likely to become involved with. My biggest dream, in this context, is to have made a difference in respect of creating environments where businesses are more efficient, create more employment and ultimately yield more nutritional product to the marketplace cost effectively. The expectation is to reduce the inefficiencies in the value chain as well as the waste that is endemic to the sector.’
Would you have been able to do the program without the EP-Nuffic scholarship?
‘No, without the scholarship I would not have done the program and am very grateful for the opportunity afforded me. I feel honoured and humbled to have been awarded the scholarship as well as a significant sense of responsibility to graduate. Furthermore the granting of the scholarship will empower me to create a multiplier effect as the knowledge gained from the program will be deployed in the business of Honeydew and all my future endeavours in business and the society that I live in.’