we engage local community with steepslope to establish stinging nettle plantation to replace degradative farming for livelihood improvement
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Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
kenya, coservation beach head area is mt kenya community forest area in castle forest area
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Start-up (first few activities have happened)
Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
Born in rural Kenya, I’ grew among farming community .With population increase, local communities were forced to encroach steep slopes for farming. The venture was degradative and non sustainable leading to soil erosion&river pollution leaving locals with no returns. Doing a phytoremediation project during studies ,I identified stinging nettle which is the native crop in steep slope to be effective. I researched on its commercialization where we were able to start ecofibre production from stalks with shoot and leaves directed to alternative nutrition & cosmetic industries.
its during these period of piloting that we were indetified and grew to be global changemakers in fashion industry with conservation ecosystem at heart of our success.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
africa population is on increase, but land doesnt, local population are forced to encroach steepslope and forest for farming leading to high soil erosion,river pollution both by siltation and leaching. steep slope farming is not sustainable and goverment in kenya is actively flushing out thousands of families in forest.
with target being tree reafforestation,most initiatives have failed as local community need a short term continuous source of income from forests around .
3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
we engage local community with steepslopes(in community forest area) to establish stinging nettle plantation which are native in these area, for every 3 months, we buy nettle stalks which we use for fibre extraction.Nettle shoots and leaves are directed for use in cosmetic and alternative nutrition. Through this we are able to offer sustainable and continuous eco-cash crops to local farmers. The nettle plant re-establishes after harvest and is thus a cover crop all year round which helps in biodiversity conservation.
We employ innovative biological retting process ,at farmers point, which apart from us getting fibre the farmers get the fermented plant extract which they use as foliar fertilizer and bio-pesticide.
to enhance long term conservation , we have partnered with community forest area and kfs castle forest station where we apart from establishing nettle plantation do grow indigenous trees in the steepslopes together with nettle. nettle serves as source of income to the local community as the care for the trees to grow. With its regenerative nature, resistance to pests and little water requirements, nettle fibre has the potential to replace other conventional fibres .
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
PRODUCTION LANDSCAPE: we produce our nettle fibre from steepslopes which are considered wasteland ,involving community in conservation as well as biological extraction of fibres.apart from fibres,the initiative have circular benefits in environmental conservation , community empowerment and contributing in community well being as nettle shoots and leaves are directed for use in alternative nutrition and cosmetic industry.our landscape balances future needs as we separate food from clothe production as demand for both increases,saving more land and water for food.
5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?
so far , green nettle textile is a leader in #lets change clothe campaign were we are lobbying to ensure textiles ,which are second most pollutant sector in the world are produced within planetary boundaries of environmental conservation and zero carbon emission. with support from fashion brands, we have being able to bring clothe, whose demand will always be on rise to conservation and biodiversity preservation. with conservative agriculture on fragile steep-slopes, reafforestation and native cover crop commercialization,we have being able to bring together local community, community forest area,kfs and fashion brands to sustainable collaboration that impact on today and future and which can be scaled beyond kenya.so far we have kfs,cfa,local community and allies of support textile brands in collaboration
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
initially 200 farmers have established nettle plantations(urtica dioca ) in nyandarua county .however the project in these area was unsuccessful as our lab trial condition was not replicable on field and the result was weak fibres .county goverment of nyandarua also didnt support the project and we were forced to shift our attention to other nettle variety .however as we employed biological letting process farmers got a chance to use fermented plant extract as foliar fertilizer with reported increased yields . We are also changing mindsets, getting people to appreciate that things can be done differently and on the importance of environmental conservation for our future generations.on april we shifted to mt kenya community forest conservation area , we are engaging registered community forest conservation group of 45 members who have secured more than 40 ha from the kenya forest services in which they have started conservation and fibre production
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
we are working to acquire small mechanized machines for clustered community groups as we scale trainings, these will help community do much of fibre processing as a franchise of the company where we shall act as aggregators and final processors for quality sensitive steps.with the possibility of scaling production to mau and aberdare water catchment areas, we are well placed to increase the number of involved farmers and conserved geographical area.
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?
commercialization of steep-slopes by making them continuous source of conservative cashcrop.through these, community in cfa areas are able to have increased revenues .through biological retting process, apart from us getting fibre,farmers get fermented plant extract which they can use as pesticide or organic foliar fertilizer in safe food production.
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
all our products are sold at a profitable %, these means the project is self funding. however with initial scale to acquire a decortication line we are banking on additional grants but the output from these is good enough to fund scale on short and long term basis.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Jonah mwangi waithaka:Founder and C.E.O of the venture.Biochemist by profession
Jackline murimi: chief operations manager .Trained accountant and experienced social entrepreneur
Susan macharia:biologist by profession and chief conservation officer
Esther muthoni :nurse by professional,
The team is working close with local farmers who does the primary fibre letting reducing the need for in factory fibre processes.knitting is outsourced from local trained women who form our workforce
11. How did you hear about this challenge?