O-farms is the first African SME accelerator completely focused on circular agribusiness. The initiative is supported by the IKEA Foundation to help scale circular agribusiness innovations in East Africa. We're working toward making circularity a mainstream approach for entrepreneurs in East African food systems by 2025.
O-Farms is a project led by Bopinc and Village Capital focused on accelerating the next generation of innovative circular agribusinesses in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. In doing so, O-Farms will build innovation support infrastructure that enables circular agribusiness to grow and develop while also gathering and sharing key lessons and learnings with the broader agribusiness ecosystem in the three countries.
By 2050, the Earth’s population will increase by two billion. How will we sustainably feed a growing population without depleting the planet’s resources? We must make the most of food and the resources required to produce it. Circular agriculture is an important approach to building a more sustainable food system. In certain food sectors, up to 50% of food is lost or wasted and left to rot. We need disruptive, innovative and impact-driven companies to provide circular solutions in agricultural markets and supply chains and to find ways to make these changes affordable and achievable. This means we need a friendly environment for SMEs and farmer groups that see business potential in valorizing food losses and by-products and bringing them back into the food system.
East Africa has huge potential for sustainable food systems. Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda the agricultural powerhouses in the region, have a steadily growing population and demand for food. For example in Kenya, between 2014 and 2018, consumption of wheat and other products went up by 32%.
East Africa also has great agribusiness potential, 64% of all food consumed in the region is produced by SMEs. At the same time, there are large inefficiencies in the food system. In certain sectors like in horticulture, losses can rise up to 50%, and most of these losses occur in the supply chain. This is where we see the low-hanging fruit for circular solutions.
1. Accelerating circular activities of 40 agribusiness SMEs
O-Farms, along with two selected local enterprise support organisations (ESOs), will provide general business acceleration and in-depth innovation support to forty circular agribusinesses from Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Seed funding of 25K Euros will be awarded to three peer-selected SMEs per cohort. There is also a passthrough grant for selected ESOs to deliver these accelerator programs.
2. Capacity building training for ESOs
The selected ESOs will be trained on how to build a sustainable organization, deliver contextualized programming for entrepreneurs they care about based on proven best practices, and create an enabling environment that helps local entrepreneurs access the resources they need to grow their businesses. The training will also cover principles for a circular economy and particularly food systems, In addition to this technical assistance, ESOs will be provided with funding to lead two accelerator programs in Kenya and one in both Ethiopia and Uganda as well as milestone-dependent funding to make critical infrastructure investments to improve the sustainability of their organizations.
3. Sharing insights and learning
We are investigating the current state of circular agribusiness in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia and will publish our findings. If you wish to receive updates on this, please sign up here.