One-line solution summary:
Using insects to increase food security in Africa. We see the beauty in the beast.
Pitch your solution.
InsectiPro tackles two of the biggest challenges Africa is going to face in the coming decade. These are food production and waste. At InsectiPro, we feel that these two challenges go hand in hand and are related to other challenges faced in Africa. We aim to tackle these and increase Africa’s food security. We offer a simple solution, insects. We farm black soldier flies and crickets to change the food value chain. Additionally, our farm can be replicated in any location with a high waste stream and BSF friendly climate. This means that we can easily scale to other countries throughout Africa to change the global food industry.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
As the population grows there will be two main problems with the food value chain, a need for increased food production and an increase in waste. These will directly affect the environment and CO2 emissions. This is a global problem but will hit Africa harder than the developed world. Population growth cuts down on grazing land available and increases the demand for food. Therefore, it is becoming more difficult for pastoralists to reach new grasslands, which leads to competition and even conflicts in some areas (FAO, 2018). Currently, Nairobi produces “2,475 tons of waste each day, as the population grows the amount of waste produced will increase with it. Africa’s population is currently being estimated at close to 1.2 billion and is projected to increase to 1.5 billion by 2025 and 2.4 billion by 2050. At this rate of growth, Africa will double its waste production by 2050. Additionally, there will be twice as many people to feed and less land to utilize for food production.
What is your solution?
Our solution is insects. We grow black soldier flies to produce alternative protein sources for the feed industry using a low tech, circular production process. This process means that farmers can use less land and get better growth results than with soy and fishmeal. These flies feed on food waste from the community thus not only upcycling organic waste but also the environmental consequences of open dumping and CO2 emissions.
Additionally, we aim to provide a cheaper and more practical solution to the food crisis by elevating nutrition through insects. Our crickets powder is designed for the general market and will work to make insect consumption widely accepted. Cricket powder can be added to anything from cookies to baby formula. We want cricket consumption to be accessible, available, affordable, and appealing for everyone.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
For both our cricket and black soldier flies we are targeting the mass market. We want to make our products affordable, appealing, accessible and available for everyone. For our black soldier flies, we are working together with feed millers and farmers. We are directly targeting 600 smallholder farmers with our out-grower program. Alternatively, with our cricket products, we are working with maize companies in Kenya to add our cricket powder to their existing products. We want our cricket products to reach low-income families throughout Kenya.
We have done market research and talked to many potential partners about their needs and interest in our products. For our BSF we have found that there is a high demand for our feed. For our cricket powder, we are using focus groups, community outreach, popup restaurants, and trials to discover what the community wants from our cricket powder.
These products affect our target population by increasing nutrition, increasing farmer income, and productivity.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Improve supply chain practices to reduce food loss, scale new business models for producer-market connections, and create low-carbon cold chains
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.
We are aligned with the Challenge because we use a zero-waste system which means we have little CO2 emissions. We are also creating circular and local solutions for animal feed which cuts emissions created by import. As far as resiliency, our crickets will continue to be a reliable source of protein and nutrition as farmland becomes scarce. Therefore, we are creating a food secure Africa. Additionally, crickets contain many nutrients and are high in protein, which makes them an ideal protein alternative to beef.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Nairobi, Kenya
What is your solution’s stage of development?Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth
Who is the primary delegate for your solution?
If you have additional video content that explains your solution, provide a YouTube or Vimeo link here:
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new business model or process
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
We are innovative because we are one of the first companies in Africa to produce BSF feed on a large scale. We also use a zero-waste circular system to produce a high-quality product. Most importantly, we utilize low-tech solutions to tackle food insecurity and waste. These qualities make us a resilient company that can outlast future challenges in Africa.
In addition, what sets us apart is that we have approached the problem in the form of industry collaboration. We believe that if we specialize in what we do, that then we don’t need to do everything. We have formed partners with waste collectors, with feed millers and knowledge institutions to ensure industry collaboration as we disrupt the current value chain.
We are also creating an out-grower program which is an innovative way to increase production capacity and supply farmers with additional income. Lastly, we are setting the best practices in this field within the African context.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
Our most important technology is our insects. However, we also use several machines that have been created specifically for InsectiPro. Some of our machinery is used for preprocessing the waste to make it manageable and the rest is used to process the end product. Our machines include a grinder, mixer, seave, and a drier. This year we will also be buying larger machinery to meet our EOY production goals. We are currently using smaller machines to perfect our production method.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
We expect our solution to decrease meat prices, increase farmer income and productivity. decrease waste, increase food security and increase nutrition. We know we will see this impact because our daily activities and inputs show us that our outputs will create this impact. Our outputs are the creation of appealing, accessible, affordable and available cricket products, creation of an outgrower program, accessing the mainstream market and expanding to additional facilities. We know that we can achieve these because we have done trials with pig farmers and the research shows us that the nutrients in cricket powder can decrease malnutrition. We are also working on our own research to prove our outcomes.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
We are impacting Nairobi as a whole because we are decreasing the amount of waste that is dumped. Additionally, we impact our 50 employees. With the poor economy in Kenya, we are ensuring they continue to have employment. This year we started commercial sales. Therefore, we will expand our staff and directly affect the feed millers and farmers we sell to. We currently have three main projects therefore we will be expanding our reach to those companies. Additionally, we are starting an out-growers program that will directly affect 1,500 smallholder farmers around Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda. Indirectly, we are affecting all consumers that buy meat from these farmers and feed millers because the meat will have a lower price point.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
We want to scale both horizontally and vertically. Within the next year, InsectiPro plans to create an out-grower model. This model would work with catfish farmers to enable them to grow their own BSF. Growing BSF larvae will not only increase their income and decrease growth time, but they will also reduce the waste their farm produces. We will do a complete study on the environmental impact of using BSF and the impact on farmer income. This would increase our target reach by 200 farmers.
In the next five years, InsectiPro plans to expand. InsectiPro will grow in several ways, including, increasing our production capacity in our main site, increasing the number of production sites, and expanding to other countries. This allows us to achieve large scale production and compete with commodities like fishmeal on a global scale. All plans currently surround the East Africa region because the climate is conducive to BSF. Additionally, we want to expand our production to other BSF products such as frass fertilizer and chitin. Frass is the BSF larvae excrement, it is used as an organic fertilizer. Chitin is the shell the BSF leave behind when they hatch. This substance is valuable in the pharma sector because it has natural antibiotics. Utilizing both of these substances continues to increase InsectiPro’s productivity and zero-waste system. These products would ensure that all parts of the BSF process are being brought back into the community. Utilizing these products also increases our target reach and increases our revenue.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
Our barriers include:
Unknown Complications- We are still learning so we sometimes come across unexpected issues that can influence production.
Power Outages- Power outages affect our entire production because we use machinery at all stages that use energy. A power outage can put InsectiPro a week behind
Market Decrease- Currently, the market for BSF and crickets is large. However, many farmers are following in InsectiPro’s tracks which increase market saturation
Extreme Weather- In extreme weather such as heavy rains InsectiPro has to shut down certain production stages
Lack of organic waste for BSF- Many producers are beginning to use waste as a part of their process. This is making waste a valuable product. Without waste, we cannot create the feed for our BSF.
Machine breakdown- This has the same impact that a power outage has except it can be long term because of the time it takes to fix the machines.
Regulations- There are not many regulations about BSF and cricket production in Kenya. However, as cricket and BSF farming increase more regulations could come into effect.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
We will use the same approach we use when adjusting production processes. This approach involves creating partnerships and using input from all levels of our team.
Power Outages- We are working on reliable sources of energy such as solar
Market Decrease- We are working to create lasting relationships with partners to maintain a major player in the market. Additionally, the demand for BSF is high and there is room for other companies to join the market.
Extreme Weather- We are building a new facility where all stages of the process will take place. This facility has more protection from the elements and is easier to access. This will decrease the impact the weather has on our production.
Lack of organic waste for BSF- We are one of the first companies in the market. This means that we have created reliable partners who have made us their primary customers
Machine breakdown- We are continually dealing with this and have found several ways to overcome it. We have a mechanic on staff for immediate and easy fixes, we spare parts on-site and use local suppliers. Using local suppliers means that the company can come to fix the machine quickly. Lastly, we are working on methods that can keep production going even if a machine is broken.
Regulations- We have created relationships with government offices and will work to have an input in the new regulations.
What type of organization is your solution team?For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
How many people work on your solution team?
We have 50 people on staff.
How many years have you worked on your solution?
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
We are food-chain-gers, (noun) (plural), people who are dedicated to making positive change within existing food and value chains.
InsectiPro works with young & enthusiastic people who are passionate about innovative farming, the planet, and food. We look beyond a person’s skill set, and we look for people with the same vision. Our differing backgrounds are what allow us to thrive and bring change to the animal feed industry and the food sector. Working with a small team allows us to improve and implement changes quickly and make space for innovation. We also have a board of trusted advisers who are experienced entrepreneurs who help guide our company.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
We partner with many institutions and members of the community. We partner with ICIPE (International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology) . ICIPE is one of our oldest partners that gave us crucial knowledge when we started. We also partner with companies that produce organic waste by using their waste to feed our larvae. Lastly, many of our suppliers are small local companies that we partner with to provide netting, metal and wood.
What is your business model?
We have a high touch manufacturing business model. We are high touch because we value interacting regularly with customers and the community and know that their feedback can make us a better company. This helps us maintain customer relationships and consistently improve our products. Additionally, we have a manufacturing business model as we are creating and selling our product to the community.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
Why are you applying to Solve?
Solve can work with InsectiPro overcome two of our main barriers, regulations and market decrease. Solve mentoring can help us with these challenges by guiding us through best practices to breaking into new markets as well as the best ways to create partners that influence regulations. Additionally, we are a young company so we are always seeking guidance on how to improve our systems and business plan.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
Food security and waste reduction affect not only the community but the environment. InsectiPro understands that the truly make a difference we have to work with partners. We are constantly looking for partners and opportunities that can enable us to have a wider impact on food security and waste reduction.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
InsectiPro believes that we can only make a change together. In looking at current Solvers there are several that we could partner with to achieve our goals. InsectiPro wants to create its own energy which makes ATCO interesting to us. Additionally, we are interested in the work that ColdHubs is doing as we are in the process of working with smallholder farmers and expanding.