Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

BIOSORRA

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What is the name of your solution?

BIOSORRA

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

We transform crop waste into crop yield by producing BIOSORRA, biochar soil improver that increases farm crops by up to 200% while sequestering CO2.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

The problem:

We are all dependent on soil to grow our food. However, as the planet’s population grows, with Africa’s population slated to double by 2050, we will run out of arable land (UN 2022). A supply shortage of arable land directly impacts malnutrition, accelerates climate change and increases poverty (WFP 2021). 

The soil is suffering in several African countries due to inefficient farming techniques, such as slash-and-burn. Under this practice, farmers clear cut their land and burn any remaining crops or vegetation. While the resulting layer of ash provides the newly cleared land with a nutrient-rich layer to help fertilize the crops, the land only remains fertile for one or two years; in the long-run, slash-and-burn results in soil erosion, making it difficult to grow food in the future, as well as carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Fewer crops result in lower incomes to adopt expensive fertilizers, modern equipment or sustainable farming techniques. This is the vicious cycle of land degradation. 

52489_Land%20degradation_1440x810.JPG


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What is your solution?

Our Solution:

At Biosorra, we break the cycle of degradation by providing biochar and training to farmers and farming cooperatives across Kenya. Biochar is a soil improver that harnesses the power of crop waste to increase yields and simultaneously capture carbon. 

We have developed a phased approach to supporting smallholder farmers to shift away from slash and burn techniques and towards sustainable techniques that will support increased food security across Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa.

52492_Land%20healthier_1440x810.JPG
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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

BIOSORRA exists to support smallholder farmers. We are launching in Kenya where there are some 2.4 million farms and 60% of the population makes their living from agriculture, contributing to 26% of the country’s GDP. Damaging techniques of slash & burn are rife here, and there is poor agricultural output, contributing to a malnutrition rate of ~26% (WFP 2021).

From our on-site observations and key informant interviews the following social and environmental challenges were identified:

- The type of soil is mostly acidic, with high risk of desertification. During rainy season, earth subsidence leads to loss of life and property. 
- Water supply shortages make adequate water distribution difficult, affecting crops.
- These shortages primarily happen in low-income areas, contributing factors include high maintenance costs, inadequate revenue and rising cost of fertilizers. These farmers make only 1.6$/day, struggling heavily to make their living and feed their families.

With biochar, we improve crop yields up to 150%, requiring 30% less water, improving income by 75%, while sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere. It is affordable (only 1/5th the price of fertilizer), retainable (lasting 100 years in the soil) and sustainable (1tn of biochar captures 3tns of carbon). With biochar, we help informal communities leapfrog into the future to balance states of inequality.

In summary, directly impact touches not only on the farmers itself, but their families, food availability in the country. For now, we produce agricultural fertilizers but the byproduct we aim to get in the process coming from same crop waste serves to cook in housing.

Indirectly, we are incentivizing job creation: to suppliers, c-level positions, scientific measurements, farmers and ultimately franchisees (women). 
In the long term, we intend to scale through a franchise model. We intend to select and train women community leaders to be franchises of Biosorra, individuals who are already trusted locally.

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We have built a diverse, multidisciplinary student team to drive the growth of Biosorra. Last year, our team joined to tackle the most pressing problems faced by farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. It was through our experiences in Ghana and Kenya that we understood the root cause problem as the soil and felt the moral drive to be part of the solution.

We are a strong diverse team that got together to study the MBA. We have the right backgrounds needed for the company: Sofie (from Belgium and Canada) has devoted her life to studying agriculture and is biochar expert, Vino (from Malaysia) has 15+ years of experience in emerging markets, Carla (from Mexico), has an investment banking background and financial services, Wangechi (from Kenya), with an agricultural background and big farmer family records, and myself with consulting background at Deloitte and McKinsey, and strong project management and leadership skills. We have a local trustworthy anchor from MBA community in Ghana, and Kenya, thanks to Strathmore Business School.

Our second revenue stream (though the most important one) is carbon credits, and we aim to grow globally. We leverage this network and connections in 4 continents.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Support local economies that protect high-carbon ecosystems from development, including peatlands, mangroves, and forests.

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Durham, NC, USA
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Our solution's stage of development:

Pilot
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How many people does your solution currently serve?

150

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Why are you applying to Solve?

We apply to Solve MIT for a dual beneficial cooperation:
1. We are hungry to collaborate and help other social impact entrepreneurs after our experience during this journey.
2. We would like to benefit from Solve MIT network in the US and outside the US as MIT is number 2 in successful entrepreneurship thanks to its amazing network, talent, and resources.
We would also seek specific advise to launch BIOSORRA with its highest potential in the following areas: Human capital, legal, tax and accounting, business model improvement.

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Ines Serra Baucells (CEO and cofounder)

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

The process transforms crop waste into crop yield through a technology that does pyrolisis process. Pyrolisis means breaking down without the absence of oxygen, improving carbon content which is key for the soil quality.

Biosorra is affordable (⅓ of fertilizer prize), is sustainable (1 ton of Biosorra captures 3 tons of carbon) and is retainable (lasts at least 10 years longer than a chemical fertilizer). 

It tackles many SDG’s principles at the same time (http://fingerlakesbiochar.com

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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Next 4 Months

Tribe Milestones 

  • Knowing who you need in your tribe

  • Have the tribe you need to succeed 

Finance Milestones

  • Refined Unit Economics 

  • Systematic Company Accounting

  • Financial Projections

  • Financial Transparency

Startup Management Milestones

  • Founders Agreement Signed

  • Company Legal Entity

  • Capitalisation Table Structured

  • Rights to Sell/ Operate your Business

  • Company Bank Account

  • Intellectual Property Protected

  • Systematic Human Resource

  • Operational Plan

Product / Service Milestones

  • Go to Market Strategy

  • Creation Process

  • Professional Marketing Plan

  • Complete Sales & Marketing Funnel

  • Generate your first Sales

  • Delivery of Product/ Service

  1. Medium term (within the scope of the initial targeted business model)

Following 6 months

Product/ Service Milestones

  • Refine end product 

  • Adapt different sizes quantities

  • Define sales instructions based on type of soil and crop

  • Higher tech machine design and construction

Sales management

  • Target to remove 1000tn CO2 atmosphere, reach 2000 farmers

  • Post sales management and customer support

  • Improve sales channel and sell by web

Operations milestones

  • Higher-tech machine import

  • R&D

  • Lean day-to-day operations

  • Tool to automate process and report demand and supply

Finance

  • Refined unit economics with higher tech machine

  • Systematic company accounting

  • Financial projections

  • Tax benefits

  • Financial transparency

  • Working capital and cash management

Reporting

  • Develop a plan for cash management and set financial targets

  • Develop capital budgeting and controlling plan

  • Define transfer pricing strategy and plan among business units

  • Develop Plan for Implementation and Ongoing Maintenance of Foreign Exchange Risk Mitigation Strategy

  • Define targets for impact report

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

it becomes a little personal. I guess the right fulfillment balance between missing out someone vs someone

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What is your theory of change?

The objective is to get your local experience and help BIOSORRA reach its highest potential for a successful launch and go to market, including advisory in legal setup, operations and financial model in the first 6 months of the partnership and later on in the scaling phase by advisory on centralized model to achieve 10000 farmers.

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The process transforms crop waste into crop yield through a technology that does pyrolisis process. Pyrolisis means breaking down without the absence of oxygen, improving carbon content which is key for the soil quality.

Biosorra is affordable (⅓ of fertilizer prize), is sustainable (1 ton of Biosorra captures 3 tons of carbon) and is retainable (lasts at least 10 years longer than a chemical fertilizer). 

It tackles many SDG’s principles at the same time (http://fingerlakesbiochar.com/...)

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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology

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How do you know that this technology works?

We have proven this technology in  Ghana 1 year ago and it is working properly and providing early stage positive resuts,

Technology used (Kon Tiki Kiln) is backed up in severak studies so it is something that works.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

6

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How long have you been working on your solution?

9 months

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What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

We are a group of diverse team as stated before, we do believe in the power dynamics of giving the most to international people.

We are a strong diverse team that got together studying the MBA. We have the right backgrounds needed for the company: Sofie (from Belgium and Canada) has devoted her life to study agriculture, Vino (from Malasya) has 15+ years experience in emerging markets and finance, Craig (from US and UK), has investment banking background and sales, and myself with consulting background at Deloitte and McKinsey, and strong project management and leadership skills. We have local trustworthy anchor from MBA community in Ghana, to react on business decisions quickly.

Our second revenue stream is carbon credits, and we aim to grow globally. We leverage this network and connections in 4 continents.


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Solution Team

 
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