Circular agribusiness accelerator launched in East Africa

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Bopinc and Village Capital have launched O-Farms, a circular agribusiness accelerator to support entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions for circular agriculture in the region.

With support from IKEA Foundation, Bopinc and Village Capital will identify and support startups with solutions for circular agribusiness, so they can make a profit from food products that would otherwise be wasted.

During the second half of 2021, the partners will recruit, vet and select 10 SMEs in both Kenya and Ethiopia for the first cohort of O-Farms. These startups 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 programme , two cohort companies from each country will be selected by their peers to receive growth funding worth EUR25,000 (US$30,000) each. 

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.

“SMEs are one of the key drivers for change in the food system; 64 per cent of all food consumed in Africa is handled by SMEs, and the number of agribusiness SMEs is steadily growing,” said Emile Schmitz, managing director of 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.”

Village Capital chief executive officer (CEO) Allie Burns said the goal was to build a circular agriculture ecosystem that was sustainable and locally-led.

“Throughout this project, we will focus on lifting up local leaders who can provide the contextualised support that African entrepreneurs need to grow and scale,” she said.

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