Communities at the heart of natural ecosystem restoration

Completed

Global ecosystem degradation and weak ecosystem governance have a huge impact on the food security of developing country populations and their economies. Working with Ashoka between 2013 and 2017, we have supported seven social entrepreneurs whose compelling models foster innovative agricultural and rural systems that are environmentally friendly, increase food security, and advance economic inclusion.

Duration
2013-2017
challenge
Natural Resources Management
country
Benin Burkina Faso Ghana Guatemala Nigeria Senegal Togo
partner
Ashoka

Results achieved

Working with Ashoka over the past three years, we have supported seven social entrepreneurs whose compelling models foster innovative agricultural and rural systems that are environmentally friendly, increase food security, and advance economic inclusion.

The seven Ashoka Fellows were offered start-up financing, professional support services, mentorship and the connections needed to successfully develop their ideas, enable them to take root, scale them up and initiate profound social transformations.

Focusing on the nutrition value chain connecting soils, agriculture, food and people, the cohort of fellows we supported was diverse in the solutions proposed, but equal in their ambition and grit to initiate and drive change where that change matters most.

Below are some examples of the Ashoka Fellows supported by the programme in Africa and Central America. Each chose a different path to bring about social change.

  • In Togo, Nicolas Metro - founder of Kinomé - is piloting the production, processing and commercialisation of Moringa oleifera, a plant whose nutrient-rich leaves can improve diet and livelihoods while restoring the soil.
  • In Nigeria, Lawrence Afere - founder of Springboard - is promoting sustainable organic agriculture, training young people to start their own organic farms.
  • The model of the Farmer’s House (Maison de Paysan), conceived and tested by Michel Babadjide in Benin, is an innovative blend of traditional agro-pastoral practices and modern techniques. Its experimental animal husbandry creates synergies between different species of animals to help decrease disease and improve breeding.
  • In Nigeria, Mene Blessing - founder of UNFIRE (Unorthodox Feeds Innovation for Rural Entreprising Smallholder Farmers) - is producing highly-nutritional animal feeds made from agricultural by-products, agricultural organic waste (such as mango seeds, seed kernels and elephant grass) and insect proteins. The animal feeds are 60% less expensive than conventional corn and therefore affordable for low income communities, while providing revenue opportunities for farmers who can sell their agricultural waste for re-use.
  • In Ghana Liisa Petrykowska - CEO of Ignitia - has created the world’s first highly accurate tropical forecasting model. A mobile phone text message service branded iska™ was launched in 2014 to generate reliable, GPS-specific weather forecasts designed to meet the needs of semi-illiterate farmers. iska™ has proven itself to be twice as accurate in its rain predictions as global forecasts in the tropics.
  • In Guatemala, Curt Bowen - co-founder of Semilla Nueva - is fighting chronic malnutrition by producing and promoting new biofortified maize and beans that are not only more nutritious, but also help farmers increase their incomes. In 2015, Semilla Nueva piloted the production and distribution of biofortified maize seeds to 3,000 families, improving their nutritional status.
  • In Burkina Faso Simone Zoundi, - founder of Sodepal and FIAB (National Federation of Food and Transformation Industries of Burkina Faso) - offers a variety of consumer enriched and fortified products to fight against malnutrition and promote local products.

In February 2016, Ashoka brought together a collaborative cluster of social entrepreneurs whose work addresses nutrition-related challenges in West Africa. Six out of seven of the Ashoka Fellows we supported are part of the group. The main objective is to build an active community of like-minded individuals with