Nairobi, Kenya, Utrecht, the Netherlands and Washington, DC, USA (April 21, 2021): Bopinc and Village Capital today announced the launch of O-Farms, the first circular agribusiness accelerator in East Africa. With support from IKEA Foundation, Bopinc and Village Capital will research, identify, and support entrepreneurs in the region who are developing innovative solutions for circular agribusiness, so they can make a profit from food products that would otherwise be wasted.
“SMEs are one of the key drivers for change in the food system; 64% of all food consumed in Africa is handled by SMEs, and the number of agribusiness SMEs is steadily growing, ” said Emile Schmitz, Managing Director, Bopinc. “By making their business models circular, we hope to create a ripple effect across the wider sector, helping to move food production throughout the region to go from a linear to a circular approach.O-Farms will be the first of its kind for Africa, never before have food-producing SMEs been challenged in this way.”
“We want to build a circular agriculture ecosystem that is sustainable – which means that it needs to be locally-led,” said Allie Burns, Village Capital CEO. “Throughout this project, we will focus on lifting up local leaders who can provide the contextualized support that African entrepreneurs need to grow and scale.”
During the second half of 2021, Bopinc and Village Capital will recruit, vet and select 10 SMEs in both Kenya and Ethiopia for the first cohort of O-Farms that will participate in a series of capacity building events focused on business model development, technical skills, investment readiness and networking with a community of investors and mentors who work in and around the food system. At the end of the program , two cohort companies from each country will be selected by their peers to receive growth funding worth €25.000 each.
“East Africa has enormous potential for sustainable food systems,” said Petra Hans, Head of Portfolio, Agricultural Livelihood, IKEA Foundation. “East Africa’s population is steadily growing and so is the demand for food in the region. The region also has great agricultural potential but, at the same time, there are large inefficiencies in the food system. In certain sectors like horticulture, where losses can rise up to 50%, most of these losses occur in the supply chain which is where we see the greatest potential for circular solutions. A circular economy in agriculture can provide multiple positive impacts such as new jobs, a much more efficient use of natural resources and lower greenhouse gas emissions from the food sector.”
By mid 2023, O-Farms hopes to have worked with more than 40 companies on making profitable new products from food losses and by-products. The learnings developed throughout the project will be shared widely to inspire the transition to circular farming and food systems in East Africa.
At Bopinc, we believe that the best products should be available, where they matter most. Fulfilling aspirations and needs is key. Through the power of entrepreneurship, every new idea is turned upside down and inside out. Until we find the right innovation, right for low-income communities. From startups to multinationals, we help organisations to design and deliver inclusive, commercially viable business models. Our diverse team of global innovators and entrepreneurs, bridge the gap between private and development sectors.
About Village Capital
Village Capital helps entrepreneurs bring big ideas from vision to scale. Our mission is to reinvent the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future. Our vision is a future where business creates equity and long-term prosperity. Since 2009, we have supported more than 1,000 early-stage entrepreneurs through our investment readiness programs. Our affiliated fund, VilCap Investments, has invested in more than 100 program graduates.
About IKEA Foundation
The IKEA Foundation is funded by INGKA Foundation, owner of the Ingka Group of companies. The IKEA Foundation focuses on creating brighter lives on a liveable planet through philanthropy and grantmaking. Learn more at www.ikeafoundation.org.