World Resources Institute (WRI), in partnership with Fledge, has launched a 4-day Land Accelerator to train and mentor 12 entrepreneurs from seven African countries. The program includes business training and technical lectures and ends with a Demo Day where participants pitch directly to prospective investors. It is the first business accelerator to focus exclusively on enterprises in the land restoration sector.
The 12 African Startups are selected out of 245 applications are:
- Akili Development (Kenya) helps small farmers to make money by connecting their produce to sustainable value chains.
- Aoulaye Sesame (Niger) plants sesame, fruit trees and Sahel apple to recover desertified land. It targets the export market with its products.
- Asili Oils (Rwanda) manufactures essential oils from seeds of Moringa trees. It has a fair trade partnership with Body Shop International.
- Chabana Farms (Botswana) makes high-quality organic livestock feed that is sold to farmers, wholesalers and the government.
- Edenfield Agriseed (Ethiopia) sells high-quality seeds for indigenous trees, which are collected from forests by rural youth and women groups.
- Green Pot Enterprises (Kenya) produces bamboo seedlings in nurseries and establishes bamboo forests to meet the energy and wood deficit.
- Kete-Krachi Farms (Ghana) sells cashew nuts for export to North America, Europe and Asia by working with small farmers.
- Lentera (Kenya) makes organic fertilizer using silicon to increase soil fertility and drought tolerance.
- Moringa Miracles (Malawi) will produce moringa leaf powder, seed and seed oil that can boost smallholder incomes up to 61 percent.
- Norelga Macadamia (Rwanda) produces macadamia nuts. Macadamia trees stabilize the soil and help farmers to fight soil erosion.
- SA Bamboo Works (Ethiopia) helps to meet the timber deficit in Ethiopia by using bamboo to make flooring and furniture.
- Safi Organics (Kenya) makes organic fertilizer that reduces soil acidity and improves farmer yields by up to 30%.
“Restoring degraded land has the potential to become big business,” said Sofia Faruqi, co-organiser of the event and Manager of WRI’s New Restoration Economy project said. “At a time when the younger generation is shying away from land-based activities, these entrepreneurs are racing toward it because they see a promising business opportunity.”
Globally, more sustainable business models for agriculture and land use could be worth up to US$2.3 trillion and provide over 70 million jobs by 2030. Africa’s young rural entrepreneurs are well aware of this huge economic opportunity.
In recent years, hundreds of companies have entered the growing landscape restoration industry, forming an emerging “restoration economy.” They represent a wide range of business models that deliver financial returns to investors while restoring forests and agricultural lands.
Luni Libes, the founder of Fledge, said “As an impact-focused accelerator, Fledge is blown away by the potential of startups in Africa to generate both profit and impact. Over 30 of the enterprises we’ve invested in are African.”
The Land Accelerator will not only help companies reach their next stage of growth but will also help African countries’ achive their national land restoration strategies. So far, 27 African countries have committed to restoring 111 million hectares of land through the country-led African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100).
By committing to restore land in their countries, the governments participating in AFR100 are taking a huge step to benefit their people now and into the future. A key part of countries’ restoration efforts is now engaging private-sector investors and entrepreneurs to turn those commitments into reality.
“As we’re moving from countries’ restoration pledges to implementation, African citizens recognize the need for impactful action on the ground and there are many inspiring successes already,” said Mamadou Diakhité, AFR100 Secretariat, NEPAD Agency. “Now is a good time to mobilize private sector investment for forest and land restoration. Together we can make Africa’s landscapes more productive and resilient.”