Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, as more than half of the population is living below the poverty line and 25 percent is living in extreme poverty. We are here to change that. Our vision is a country in which people and wildlife live together in harmony and people have a solid economic foundation, ensuring food security and access to education and healthcare. Rather than giving philanthropy away, we built a company together with smallholder farmers aiming for long-term economical sustainability.


Spicy Farmers is a social enterprise aiming to empower communities and preserve wildlife in Liwonde National Park, through the production and sale of high-quality bird's eye chillies. Spicy Farmers currently supports ten communities around the park with 30 hectares of chilli farms.


The organisation was founded in 2020, when Frederik and Maureen decided to pursue their dream of improving the lives and economic prospects of needy people and communities, while also contributing to conservation objectives of nature and wildlife. After talking to various (local) organisations and getting inspired by people with a similar passion, they decided to set up a social chilli business that contributes to conservation led economic development, directly benefitting communities in the region of Liwonde National Park in Malawi. Farmers in these communities face many challenges, including crop damage by elephants, unfair markets, and lack of (proper) irrigation systems. By organising them, providing all the required inputs, and ensuring proper management and markets, Spicy Farmers aims to improve the livelihoods of these farmers and their families.


Our goal is to solve the human-elephant conflict and support as many farmers as possible. We have just started and plan to build the business step-by-step, in close cooperation with the smallholder farmers of our communities. In the future, we aim for Spicy Farmers to be economically sustainable, while contributing to conservation objectives of wildlife parks.


Our communities are situated in four so-called 'hotspots', known for having the highest human-elephant conflicts with significant crop damage. Most people in these hotspots are smallholders farmers who grow maize, rice, pigeon peas, and sesame for self-consumption, but also as a source of income. However, these crops are also popular food crops for elephants, especially during the dry season when there is less food in the national park. In addition, markets appear to be very unreliable for the farmers as buyers are typically middlemen who come to the villages and offer low prices to take advantage of the farmers who are desperate to sell cash or surplus crops at the start of the harvest to meet household needs after a long season with little income. Organising these farmers to grow birds eye chillies instead should keep the elephants away and provide farmers a significant upliftment in income.


This year we have started with 30 hectares of chilli farms in one of the four hotspots and we aim to expand to the other hotspots in the next few years. Each farmer has approximately 0.2 hectares of land so we currently support around 150 smallholder farmers.



Dave Robertson

Dave is Park Manager at African Parks, a non-profit organisation that takes on the responsibility for rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks. Dave has over 20 years of experience in conservation, starting as a Section Ranger and later Conservation and Reserve Manager in various South African game reserves. In 2015, he joined African Parks as a Field Operations Manager at Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia before moving on to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and finally Liwonde and Mangochi Forest Reserve in Malawi. He recently also participated in African Parks' historical elephant translocation. Dave has a true passion for conservation, which motivated him to join Spicy Farmers as Chairman of the Board and jointly solve the human-elephant conflict around Liwonde.

Dimitri Giannakis

Dimitri is CEO (joint) of Meridian, an agribusiness with companies in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique. Dimitri is also Director of the Meridian’s Malawi based companies Farmers World and Agora, which he co-founded in 1995. Farmers World and Agora distribute farming inputs necessary for food security. In addition, they supply rural farming communities with other basic inputs and extension services. In addition to these management positions, Dimitri played an active role in various Malawian agricultural institutions, including the Fertiliser Association of Malawi, National Resource College, and Tobacco Control Commission. Dimitri's lifelong commitment to supporting Malawian farmers and assisting in their efforts to achieve sustainable livelihoods and national food security motivated him to fulfil a Board position at Spicy Farmers.

Bouke Bijl

Bouke is Senior Consultant at Agricane, an agricultural engineering and development company that provides planning, design, development, training, and management services to make a sustainable difference in African agriculture. Bouke has 25 years of experience in agricultural management and agronomy, including management roles at Lujeri Tea Estate and Coffee & Macademia Estate in Malawi, and an agronomist role at Nchalo Estate in Malawi. Next to his activities in the agricultural sector, Bouke is Honorary Consul of the Netherlands in Malawi. His extensive experience in sustainable farming in Africa and strong ties with Malawi, "the Warm Heart of Africa", made him enthusiastic to join Spicy Farmers as a Board member.




Maureen Wouters

Maureen is a Strategy Consultant at McKinsey & Company in Amsterdam. As a Strategy Consultant, she supports large organisations worldwide – in private, public, and social sectors – to solve their most complex problems. She works closely with client executives to help organisations achieve their potential and ensure long-term success. Helping other people and making them thrive makes her enthusiastic and energetic, espcecially when it is for a good cause. This inspired her to start Spicy Farmers in her beloved Africa.

Frederik Terwindt

Frederik is the Managing Director of a single-family office. As Managing Director, he leads all the investments and philanthropic activities. What he enjoys most about his work is that he can use his skills and capabilities to invest in ventures that have a positive social impact on less fortunate communities in the Netherlands. This excited him to take it a step further and start his own social enterprise in Malawi, a long cherished dream - setting up a social venture to demonstrate sustainable upliftment of communities while contributing to conservation objectives.