Econolutionists Envirolutionists

Empowering Land Restorative Entrepreneurs through the Land Acceleration Program

The land. A topical issue particularly found in many parts of the continent: particularly land rights and ensuring indigenous access to participate in healthy land use.

While conversations of land rights are particularly brewing in the Southern parts of Africa, land health has been a constant undercurrent conversation throughout the independence period.  Industrialization and land dependency due to inequalities are predominant factors in land degradation and deforestation. In Africa 23% of the land mass is prone to desertification. Additionally, UNEP estimates that 5 million hectares of tropical forest are lost per year, while 230 million hectares of land are affected by degradation.

While land and forestry is lost, restoration is possible. This has been a sustainable socio-economic opportunity that a few Africans have yielded for the betterment of the environment. These social entrepreneurs have opened businesses that work towards re-greening Africa while creating sustained human activity in agriculture. A selected few of these entrepreneurs have been supported by the world’s first land accelerator program held in Nairobi Kenya in December last year.

A partnership between World Resources Institute (WRI) and Fledge led to a four day training and Demo day, where entrepreneurs pitched their entreprizes to potential investors with means to scale their business. According to WRI, 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.

Tapping into this green industry serves economic, environmental and social benefits, however this is a reasonable climate mitigation strategy taken by these entrepreneurs. Their businesses come from countries such as Rwanda, Botswana, Kenya and Ethiopia – which each have their narrative regarding deforestation and desertification.

Here are the twelve selected businesses that were a part of the land acceleration program:

  • 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%.

The Land accelerator will be hosting a similar training this year through nomination of start ups. For more information regarding the Land Acceleration Program, visit their website