A profile story about the ClimateLaunchpad 2021 global runner-up Entomo Farm
“Before I applied, I knew my business could make a difference in terms of climate change, but I didn’t know to what extent. ClimateLaunchpad was eye-opening and enlightened me to the greater impact I could make in the reduction of CO2 emissions and water usage.”
Zambia-based Entomo Farm came in second during our Global Grand Final 2021. We connected with founder Priscilla Musenge on Zoom to discuss her ClimateLaunchpad journey, recent developments and her plans for the future.
Well done on your second place during our Global Grand Final: congratulations. Tell us a bit more about your business.
“Thank you, it’s been a humbling experience and it gave me a lot of joy and confidence in my start-up. The competition was really stiff, so I am extremely happy with this outcome. About my business; the shortest version of my pitch is this: we turn food waste into sustainable, organic and inexpensive livestock feed and fertilizer for small and medium scale chicken, pig and fish farmers. We do this by farming the black soldier fly for its larvae, which feeds on food waste, and then we process it into our product, the livestock feed.
Poultry and livestock farming is trending in Zambia and conventional feed is quite expensive and has a high carbon footprint. The economic situation results in constantly increasing prices which heavily affects small and medium scale famers. Sustainability, affordability and protein content are important considerations for them. With the black soldier fly we offer an organic, affordable protein source, which at 43% ranks higher than soya beans, at 35%. Added benefits of using insects is that they don’t transmit disease and the fact that insect farming is easily scalable. We aim to be the first commercial insect farmer in Zambia.”
“Sustainability, affordability and protein content are important considerations for farmers when buying livestock feed.”
How did you come up with the idea, what is your background?
“I had a full-time job and ran a small-scale chicken farm on the side to earn some extra income. I never thought it would bring me this far or that I would become a producer of the actual feed. The thing is, I couldn’t afford the increasing prices of chicken feed. I started to look for more affordable options and came across the black soldier fly. After researching it for about a year, I decided to commit myself fully to it. I left my job, even though I had no former experience in insects. I am not an entomologist… my background is in hospitality and insurance. It was a huge leap, but I realized that all change comes from the passion of individuals and this is just something I had to do.”
What is the potential socioeconomic and climate impact of your start-up?
“My ultimate goal is to create a fully circular business, from feed to farm to table. And from table back to feed again by using food waste to feed the larvae, and hence diverting it from landfills. Using insects for feed reduces the carbon footprint of conventional protein sources. In comparison to conventional farms in Zambia, we offer a solution that saves 75% of CO2 emissions and 50% water savings a year. Besides the positive climate impact, I am looking to empower women and youth and alleviate poverty by creating jobs. Within my team I aim for gender balance.”
“My ultimate goal is to create a fully circular business, from feed to farm to table.”
What has been your biggest achievement or success so far? How did ClimateLaunchpad help you achieve that?
“I had attended other accelerator and incubator programmes before joining ClimateLaunchpad. With that I had been able to register my business, build an insectarium, buy machinery and start prototyping. What ClimateLaunchpad offered was the ‘climate’ edge; it highlighted how my business plays an important role in mitigation. The Boot Camps, coaching and competing gave me a boost to move my business to the next stage. Things are really coming together with the new president here in Zambia who is on a mission to change the narrative of our unemployed youth and is more sensitive to climate change. New climate policies open doors for us and the climate aspect is getting picked up in the market. It really feels like our business is the one to watch right now, it seems we are in the right place at the right time. The knowledge and skills from ClimateLaunchpad offered the much-needed wind under our wings to go to the next level. I learned that to own your business, you have to love it, you have to be passionate about it. That’s what I learned: passion.”
“The knowledge and skills from ClimateLaunchpad offered the much-needed wind under our wings to go to the next level.”
What have you been up to since the Grand Final and what’s next for your business?
“It is a challenging and exciting period; we want to finalize the pilot stage in the first quarter of 2022 and we are preparing to go to market. We are also working on branding and communication as we have to sensitize our customers about working with insect-based feed. The main issue is to convince farmers in the rural community of the benefits of feeding their livestock and poultry with our product. We are looking into the right messaging.”
Where do you want to be in five years?
“By then I want us to be the leading and preferred source of alternative protein for the region. We will have grown our team and increased the number of employed and empowered women and youth. And I hope that by then we will be making a substantial positive contribution to environment.”
Why should anyone join ClimateLaunchpad?
“Why wouldn’t you? For anyone who wants to learn how to make a positive change with your business: ClimateLaunchpad is your ticket. My experience has been very rewarding and enlightening. In my perspective we are the first people to experience the effects of climate change, so we should be the first people to want to make a change and to be the change we want to see.”
“I learned that to own your business, you have to love it, you have to be passionate about it.”
The ClimateLaunchpad programme in Zambia was organized by our National Partner, Impact Hub Lusaka. The competition is supported by the Climate-KIC International Foundation and German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (‘GIZ’) exclusively on behalf of and for the account of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (‘BMZ’) to accelerate climate tech solutions for a net-zero Africa.
Watch Entomo Farm’s pitch during the 2021 Global Grand Final:
Tags: Bootcamp, cleantech, Climate Change, Global Grand Final, global impact, start-ups