By Gilbert Muvunankiko and Fabiana Chamis | World Resources Institute (WRI) | October 17, 2022
About 65% of Africa’s arable land is too damaged to sustain viable food production and at least 485 million (65%) people are affected, at a financial cost of US$9.3 billion every year. The human toll – everything from lost livelihoods to poor health – is incalculable.
It’s time to find sustainable solutions to restore, protect and maintain African land for the benefit of people and the planet. The Land Accelerator equips entrepreneurs with knowledge and skills to tackle this issue by building economically viable, sustainable businesses that safeguard our planet and provide livelihoods for millions of people.
Already, entrepreneurs across Africa have benefited from the Land Accelerator. Exotic EPZ, alumnus of the Land Accelerator program, led by Jane Maigua and her partners, works directly with 2600 smallholder farmers in 12 Kenyan counties who are growing over 94,000 macadamia nut trees. Not only does Exotic improve smallholder farmers livelihoods through purchase of the macadamia nuts, but the company provides capacity building and access to seedlings to its smallholder farmers as part of land restoration activities. Over the next two years, Exotic is implementing a program that will support farmers to plant and grow 150,000 macadamia nut trees, spread over nearly 500 hectares, while mixing them with other high-value tree species such as moringa.
Exotic EPZ Workers sorting macadamia nuts. Credit: Exotic EPZ
The company integrated land restoration into its business model in 2017. Over time, the company's sales have known an increase of more than 1800%. Its 2,600 partner farms earn $1,013, on average per season. Recently, the company received a $ 1 million grant from the USAID-EA ATI program to help expand its activities.
“The land Accelerator helped us see the linkages between our business growth and land restoration, thus helping us remodel Exotic EPZ business, said Jane Maigua”. “With Land Accelerator, we gained confidence in pitching our business model to investors and provided an opportunity for mentorship and peer-to-pear learning,” she added.
Demand for the second phase of Land Accelerator Africa was very high. That phase kicked off on April 26, with more than 1,400 applications from 41 African countries. The 100 selected entrepreneurs completed a rigorous three-month online training and mentorship program. Among those, the top 16 companies were selected and will benefit from one-on-one technical support and be hosted for in-person Impact Days. The event will culminate with a Demo Day, where the entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to a room of investors.
Once a company graduates from the program, they're more likely to attract serious funding. TerraFund for AFR100, for example, has provided $3 million in loans to 20 of these start-ups since 2021.
Discover the top 16 businesses of the Land Accelerator Africa 2022
Contact: Owolabi Adewumi
Sector: Trees, timber, and non-timber forest products
Aerobic agroforestry produces tree seedlings, plants trees, and produces timber and non-timber forest products by working with local communities--providing environmental, social, and economic benefits. Their model includes sales of seedlings, tree planting, agroforestry consultancy services, feed additive supplements, and tree products such as food, fruit, and juice.
Since 2008, Aerobic Agroforestry has built substantial expertise in agroforestry commodities' propagation and sales of seedlings. Young tree plants find their way to clients within Nigeria and are accompanied by additional services to secure successful cultivation. They pride themselves in having the biggest soilless nursery for tree seedlings production in Nigeria.
Over the years, their ambitions have emerged. Initially, supplying seedlings were their goal; today, they are restoring one of the degraded forest reserves in Nigeria- Akure Ala Forest Reserve, on 12,000 hectares. They have restored a total of 1,250 ha with 1,250,000 trees planted, nurtured and protected thus far. They aim to plant 5 million trees in the upcoming 4 years and recently, through the TerraFund for AFR100, Aerobic Agroforestry received a loan to restore the semi-arid Igangan Forest Reserve and prevent further degradation. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
African Honey Products
Contact: Fredrick Matress
African Honey Products is a honey production and apiculture company providing modern beehives, equipment, technical capacity building, extension support, and pollination services to growers. The honey is produced from their own beehives as well as from an out-grower network, to whom they provide an equitable market at harvest. The company also performs honey processing and marketing services.
The business has also taken a strategic direction to embark on restoration activities through a government owned natural forest reserve. The plan is to commence with 100 hectares which will be increased gradually to 300 to 500 hectares ultimately put under restoration within the next five years. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Contact: Otaigo Elisha
Sector: Fish Feed
NovFeed produces a protein-rich fish feed based on dried, inactive single-cell organisms that are produced through the fermentation of restaurant and market food waste. Their patented formula makes nutrients from food waste available for bacteria multiplication, which in turn becomes food for fish. This solution supports sustainable fishing and prevents the need for production of fish feed from plant materials on degraded land. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Contact: Hanan Elhadi
Sector: Organic farm conversion, processing, and marketing
Africorp International realizes human dignity by enhancing return on small holder farmers' labor and investment to improve their quality of life and liberate them from underdevelopment caused by poverty. They assist farmers in shifting to organic food production, currently working with around 4,000 small holder farmers in Sudan. They maximize efficiency through 4 manufacturing, processing, and cleaning plants. They export 15 products to over 40 countries on 5 continents. Restoring the health of soil, Africorp has put under restoration 1,449 hectares by planting 29,780 tree seedlings in the last 3 years. Africorp is among the top 100 restoration projects and businesses receiving funding from TerraFund for AFR100.Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Agribusiness Solutions Ltd.
Contact: Florence Alice Mathingau
Sector: Avocado oil and products, Black Soldier Fly farming
Agribusiness Solutions Ltd reduces post-harvest loss through value-added product processing to many varieties of avocados. Avocados flesh is processed into crude oil. Avocado peels are processed into briquettes for cooking fuel, reducing tree cutting for charcoal production. Finally, the cake/sludge leftover from oil processing is used to raise Black Soldier Flies for human and animal protein consumption, reducing the fishing of immature fish. They have 12,000 contracted farmers who have a total of 24,000 acres under restoration. To address seasonality challenges in Kenya, they intend to have 100,000 contracted farmers growing Hass avocados on 200,000 acres of land in East Africa by 2025. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Ceriops Environmental Organization
Contact: Zipporah Chalwa and Levis Sirikwa
Sector: Mangrove Nursery/Restoration
Ceriops produces high-quality mangrove seedlings as a tool for the successful restoration of degraded mangroves. Mikoko na Jamii mangrove restoration model, which they use, integrates community knowledge and scientific knowledge to spur sustainable restoration of mangroves. Partnering with 6 community groups, they provide training and information packaging, data management and research, as well as resource mobilization, while community groups handle matters related to nursery set-up, mangrove planting, and maintenance. In the last 12 months, they have put 25 ha of mangroves under restoration with 3 mangrove species. They have a target of increasing mangrove species in nurseries from 3 to 6 species, hence restoring up to 50 ha of degraded mangroves in 2023. The current projects include nursery set-up with SOA microgrants and active restoration of mangroves with Absa bank and OneTree organization through the World Economic Forum. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Contact: Ulrich Djido
Sector: Organic compost and fertilizer
Biolife reduces the use of chemical fertilizers in the production of fruits and vegetables through the production of high-quality compost and manure from farms and other locally available organic residues. Selling to approximately 12,000 fruit and vegetable farmers and 500 rice producers, BioLife organic fertilizers maintain soil fertility for sustainable food production. Through its activities, focusing on the organic fertilizer production and training of producers, Biolife has so far contributed to the restoration of more than 70 ha of degraded land and plans to increase to over 500 ha by 2025. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Contact: Rokiatou Traore
Herou Alliance fosters economic, environmental, and social impacts for rural and urban women and youth by building an inclusive Moringa value chain. They deliver technical assistance to rural women to help them become effective organic Moringa suppliers while contributing to the reforestation of the degraded landscapes. So far, the company has empowered 15,000 partner women and youth and has put under restoration 1,000 hectares through planting 10 million Moringa trees. Recently, in Partership with 1,070 Malian farmers, the company planted over 20,000 Moringa trees. In addition, the company supports them in transforming and commercializing Moringa products via business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) models. They produce a line of Moringa teas, powder, soap, oil. Capitalizing on the rising awareness of nutritional and health benefits of the superfood Moringa, they export to over nine countries, including Germany, France, USA, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Gabon. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Horizon Business Ventures
Contact: Bernard Muchiri
Sector: Essential Oils
Horizon Business Ventures motivates communities to participate in conservation efforts and provides livelihood opportunities through the production of essential oils from the safeguarded rich biodiversity of forests. Their target markets are the cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical industries, fueled by consumers increasingly embracing safe, healthy, natural products. They offer five tree-based oils and produce animal feed as a secondary revenue stream. HBV together with Climate partners plan to plant 5 million indigenous trees, covering 5000 hectares (263000 already planted) in the next five years.150000 indigenous trees will be planted under IKI(GIZ) project (2022-2024), within three blocks of Mount Kenya Forest. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Inkingi Eco Ltd
Contact: Faida Zoubeda Uwase
Sector: Cookstoves and tree nursery
Inkingi Eco Ltd incentivizes communities to shift to sustainable, modern, cleaner energy cooking solutions- solar cookstoves. These stoves reduce cooking fuel use, mitigating negative health and environmental impacts. These stoves are more affordable, timesaving, cleaner, and more efficient than traditional cooking systems. This solution saves forests from illegal logging and through the restoration campaign works to restore degraded forests. So far, they have put under restoration 286 hectares, with additional 50 ha of native and fruit trees in the pipeline. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Kontiki Bamboo Works Ltd
Contact: Dr Koojo Charles Amooti
Sector: Bamboo Integrated Agroforestry and Products
Location: Hoima, Uganda
Kontiki Bamboo Works Ltd work centers around bamboo, a plant that contributes to soil improvement, conservation, bio-energy, clean air, and social-economic benefits for people. They have created 500 jobs for women and youth and provides a sustainable livelihood while restoring land and mitigating climate change. Kontiki produces and plants bamboo seedlings. Currently, they have planted on 200 ha,and have 52 bamboo contract farmers (80 ha). The company produces bamboo products, including toothpicks, table mats, menu covers, furniture crafts/souvenirs and construction poles.
Kontiki plans to establish an integrated agroforestry, working with10,000 household bamboo villages, curb deforestation and put under restoration 5,000 ha in the next 5 years. This intervention is expected to generate income of USD 5 billion and create 50,000 jobs through bamboo value addition, supply chain, skilling and innovation center, eco-tourism and carbon trading. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Contact: Joseph Waihenya Kiarie
Contact: Joseph Kiarie
Sector: Grassland restoration
Moto Feeds is revitalizing degraded grasslands by providing sustainable fodder solutions to the Maasai community. Their solution combines the planting of Boma Rhodes grass to provide all season fodder and trees. Seeds and hay are harvested, and excess is sold for extra income. Moto Feeds has successfully planted 70,000 acres of grassland and 1,500,000 trees. Currently the company is partnering with more pastoralist communities to scale up this solution. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Contact: Berias Unyolo
Sector: Fruit and Bamboo Seedlings
Mundawathu Gardens focuses on multiplication and propagation of drought resistant fruit trees and bamboo seedlings to combat high rates of deforestation and fruit imports through commercialization. They sell the seedlings to agricultural cooperatives, the private sector and environmentally conscious stakeholders at affordable prices to improve productivity despite the harsh climatic conditions. They provide more than 20 varieties of high yield seedlings of fruit trees and offer planting and agricultural management services to cooperatives and private sector. Since 2018, Mundawathu Gardens and partners have put under restoration over 65,000 hectares and anticipate restoring over 25,000 hectares of land using over 450,000 seedlings raised in the 2022 to 2023 rainy season. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Contact: Yusuf Tura
Obamastove is the second largest cookstove company in Africa. It has scaled the manufacture and sold over 500,000 cookstoves without any grants or big investments. The design of their cookstoves contributes to curbing deforestation while contributing to climate change mitigation as it reduces fuel consumption by 50% and harmful emissions by 60% compared to traditional cooking. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
Perfect Village Communities
Contact: Parfait Mugisha
Sector: Diversified tree nursery
Perfect Village Communities tackles issues of farmland degradation and malnutrition through land restoration. They produce tree seedlings and train farmers and communities in sustainable land/ soil management while restoring its health and productivity. The latter is complemented by the revenues from sales of fruit seeds and products, livestock, and their manure.
This year, they plan to restore 2,000 new hectares with a vision to reach million hectares in upcoming five years. This will be coupled with intensive food production activities on restored land and transforming different varieties of trees planted into final products for multiple use (medicinal products, natural fertilizers, etc.) in collaboration with the Community Production Units. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
African Oilseeds Processing Company
Contact: Ngoupeyi Kouemene Rinel Randolph
Sector: Avocado oil and products
African Oilseeds Processing Company strives to eliminate avocado post-harvest loss through the processing of avocados into a variety of products. Avocado pulp is processed into extra-virgin avocado oil. Avocado peels and waste from oil production are processed into organic fertilizer. Seeds are planted to produce more avocado seedlings, which are planted on farmers' land. The latter are provided with beehives placed under the protective avocado canopy. Avocado and hive products are, in turn, purchased back from farmers to produce more avocado oil, beeswax, and honey products. To date, they have planted 31,222 avocado seedlings on 295 ha. In the next three years, they will plant 120,000 seedlings on degraded grasslands through an agreement with the chiefdom of Banfang Fokam. Learn more about their business in this pitch deck.
About Land Accelerator
Land Accelerator program provides a cost-effective approach to restore and develop rural areas around the world. Land Accelerator does so through its online and in-person boot camps and personalized mentorship that empowers entrepreneurs to pitch impact investors and sell their products more effectively while restoring the degraded land. So far, the Land Accelerator accounts for a network of 407 graduates in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. These companies have engaged more than 474,106 farmers to restore more than 620,789 hectares. In addition, these companies provide more than 11,501 jobs and generate an average revenue of $128,500. However, more investments and partnerships are needed to support these entrepreneurs scale up their work. An estimate of $500,000,000 is needed for these companies to scale up and serve more people while safeguarding the planet.
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- Accelerator Leads: Are you running a similar program in the agriculture or forestry space? Reach out to Samuel Kabiru to tell us more.