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Growing Bamboo to Restore Kenya’s Degraded Land

An eco-friendly and sustainable plant, bamboo can restore landscapes and transform communities. In Kenya, GreenPot Enterprises established a bamboo nursery and processing companyto turn this potential into reality.

Kenya is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change because of a years-long drought matched with torrential rains and floods and diminishing forest cover.

Communities are trying to adapt to these changes by reducing their cattle, sheep and goat herds and introducing breeds that are more resilient to drought. As a result, farm productivity and revenues have decreased. To address this challenge, GreenPot Enterprises is using bamboo to restore degraded landscapes and bring an alternative money-making opportunity to communities.

GreenPot Enterprises is a high-impact business founded in 2014 with a mission to transform communities and conserve nature through innovative bamboo-based initiatives. The company chose bamboo for its ecological, nutritional and financial benefits. The species also has a short growth cycle, multiple uses that range from construction to food, fuel and textiles, and is a renewable resource that can be used more sustainably than wood. 

The company believes that land restoration can serve as a commercially viable and profitable way for communities to earn a living. In partnership with TerraFund for AFR100, an initiative of of World Resources Institute, One Tree Planted, and Realize Impact that finances Africa's top restoration enterprises and projects, and INBAR, GreenPot Enterprises has created a project to plant bamboo varieties, provide training opportunities and promote clean energy.

The funds received from TerraFund for AFR100 will enable GreenPot to continually improve livelihoods and boost water and soil quality around the Mara River area.

GreenPot Enterprises works with different communities, including the Maasai, to restore degraded ecosystems by introducing sustainable woodlots.

Since it was founded, the company has restored about 1,600 hectares of land, planted 750,000 bamboo clusters, and empowered 2,000 smallholder farmers.

GreenPot empowers women in its projects to help the community understand the important role that women can play as agents of change. Over the next three years, the company plans to engage 1,000 more women in sustainable agroforestry. 

Through outreach and education, the company encourages communities to shift to environmentally friendly products. This involves moving away from using single-use plastics and turning to more sustainable options like bamboo. The business honed its pitching and business development skills by participating in the Land Accelerator, a training and mentorship program for ambitious entrepreneurs whose businesses restore land.

Caroline Kariuki, co-founder and chief executive officer of GreenPot Enterprises, explains more. 

“Through our work, we drive Kenya to sustainable restoration. Our intention is to bring Mother Nature back to life and communities together. We practice agroforestry, riparian restoration and beekeeping to achieve this and promote a wealthy nation. Thanks to the zeal and collaboration with communities, we are currently the first fully integrated bamboo company in Kenya,” says Caroline.

Thanks to its TerraFund for AFR100 loan,he company is establishing a bamboo processing factory that will turn the “green gold” produced by its partner farmers into finished products ready for the market. A decade from now, GreenPot Enterprises aims to have restored 40,000 hectares acres of land and established five bamboo factories in three different countries. This will lead to more green jobs, increased investment and more partnerships to fast-track landscape restoration in Kenya, one bamboo shoot at a time.