Conserving Forests through Nature Based Enterprises(NBEs)

Creating non-extractive economic values to forests that motivate adjacent communities to participate in its conservation and protection.

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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Bernard Muchiri

Initiative's representative date of birth

July 16, 1959

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Kenya

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

Date Started


Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan going forward)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €100k - €250k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

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.

The idea came when working among small-holder farmers, adjacent to Mount Kenya forest, with an NGO, Help Self Help Centre. We observed that despite our good intention to bring solutions to food insecurity, poverty and forest degradation, the situation was becoming worse. This situation was linked to climate change and we started looking for alternative coping strategies. Among other places, we looked for a solution from the forest. We started by conducting an ethno-botanical survey, targeting indigenous knowledge in relation to plant use. Our "Aha!" moment came when, through further R&D, we identified a few forest species (with non-wood forest products properties), that when sustainably managed could provide for alternative livelihoods.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The problem is increasing levels of illegal forest activities due to high poverty incidences as a result of the changing climate and disruption of traditional livelihood systems. While our program have had significant progress(poverty and logging), we are only limited to a small geographical location, an area of 49,000ha as opposed to 2,586,555.440ha under gazetted forests in Kenya. Preserving the forests will be critical in the country fight towards climate change and poverty.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our solution is to protect hundreds of hectares of forest in the Mount Kenya region and restore hundreds of more acres, in a regenerative and sustainable way through helping communities garner meaningful income from non-extractive forest resources, instead of cutting the trees down. We initiate a study (ethno-botanical), aiming to capture community knowledge in relation to forest use, identify economic trees through a number of prioritization criteria, conduct further R&D including technology and market studies. The next stage is to do product pilot production and marketing which eventually evolve into full commercialization. We target the non-wood forest products (NWFPs), while promoting the conservation of the woody part of the tree/plant. We encourage the domestication of the wild economic trees on-farm through agro-forestry. Our model is 3Bs -Biodiversity (conservation), Business (profit) and Bread (household income). To succeed we work with a number of stakeholders including government (legal forest owners), Community Forest Associations (legal forest actors), user groups (seed collections), NGOs (capacity building of local actors) and private sector (technology, market.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

While searching for alternative livelihood to traditional agro-pastoral systems, becoming untenable due to climate change, we looked into forests, suffering from degradation. We started by ethno-botanical survey, thus understanding community relation with forest flora.This culminated into species prioritisation, pilot processing and marketing research. After stakeholders consultation the 3B model that balances conservation, profit and livelihoods was adopted. Unlike other initiatives, 3Bs success is determined by degree of community participation and associated benefits linked to conservation.The model has strong sustainability aspect, creating economic value to previously wasted NWFPs, motivating community participation in conservation.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

For us to succeed , we plan to strengthen our relationship and collaboration with relevant stakeholders including government (national, county, KFS, KBS), grassroots organizations (CFAs, forest user groups), and civil society (E4 Impact, TCN, Stay Alliance), Universities (JKUAT, PACU) and private sector (Renetech Sweden,HBV, Mulima Netherlands). In future we intend to engage more civil societies and private companies, especially in the cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries. We will strengthen our engagement, with investment companies in our scale-up phase, necessary to secure the necessary capital and expertise. Collaboration with the governments (both national and county) is critical as they are the custodian of public forests and possess expertise in some technical disciplines, necessary to the success of this project. Building the capacity and collaboration with Community Forest Association(CFAs), that represent community interests in forest management will be crucial.

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?

The key beneficiaries of the model are Mount Kenya forest adjacent communities(FAC), who gains extra income and employment opportunities from participating in the emerging essential oils value chain. On average a household earn extra of USD 560, collecting e.g. cape chestnut seeds, in five months of harvesting, compared to average income of USD 720/annum. This strengthens beneficiaries’ resilience and coping mechanisms to climate change. There are 14 local employment opportunities, created in the value chain (Feed stock management, transport, semi-processing, processing and marketing). The business revenue have grown from USD 30000 (2014) to USD 112,000 (2018), supplying essential oils to the growing healthy consumer market. Currently there are 1200 beneficiaries, comprising mainly women (70%). We measure the social impact by the number of people participating, amount of income earned per household, number of jobs created in the value chain and the revenue growth in the company.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Our growth strategy is to achieve revenue stream of USD 1,200,000 per annum by 2026 by: • Expanding geographical area of feed stock collections by 200,000 hectares. • Add staff to existing team i.e growth manager, chief technical officer, forest and quality officer. • Securing investment partnerships (loans, equity, grants) to finance in staffing, feed stock, logistics, equipment, estimated at USD1,000,000. • Diversify customer base targeting key consumers of essential oils i.e cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries. • Penetrate major EU and US markets by securing certifications e.g ISO 20000. • Joint R&D for special products with client’s e.g Mulima Netherlands which jointly produced caterpillar’s cream for Europe market.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

The project intends to strengthen the 3Bs model approach focusing on creating shared values (CSV) to all key stakeholders. 1. Local community and grassroots institutions, will gain through income, employment opportunities, access to protein rich animal feed ingredient and skills training. 2. Government will in the long-term spend less in protection of public forest as communities participate meaningfully in preservation of ecosystems and species. 3. NGOS like Help Self Help Centre will be expected to increasingly funds their operations from revenues generated in the value chain. 4. Healthy conscious consumers, both local and international will increasingly access natural products.

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?

On the short-term (1-12 month), the project will rely on grants, profits and debt borrowing to finance order(s) requirements, especially raw materials. To further improve the revenue stream (estimated at USD 300,000-350,000/annum) in the medium term (1-2 years), we intend to approach RENT CO, the equipment renting company. This will enable us borrow distillation equipment, being the main challenge in increasing essential oils output. In the long-term the project will embrace a public/private partnership allowing for investment partnership (40% equity) and future borrowing of loans from such entities as African Climate Change Fund, ADB and Common Fund for Commodities (CFC). We expect to raise USD1,000,000 and generate 1.2000,000 per annum

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?

Out of 14, the key organizations staff are Director (1), programs coordinator (1), business manager (1), accountant (1), administrative (1) and Technical officer (1) The management board comprises 5, with qualification in development, business, and policy fields. All senior staffs (5) have degrees in various fields - business, marketing, accounting, and extension services. As the business grows we intend to strengthen staff in other keys areas i.e M&E, quality control and public relations.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email
  • Through a colleague who attended the Ashoka Summit in Kenya

12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.

This project is based on the notion that ‘what community values, they preserve. Before our intervention, illegal forest activities were the norm, despite government and other’s effort to contain the situation. Our model (3B) has demonstrated a clear linkage between biodiversity and livelihoods improvements. For example,in Kabaru forest block (13000ha), where 40% of the vegetation is dominated by cape chestnut trees, preliminary investigation done in 2019, by Kenya Forest Services(KFS)indicated 80% reduction in illegal forest activities (logging,charcoal burning) after only 3 years of our intervention. The actual community value of cape chestnut seeds in 2019 was USD 55000. Also there was 65% increase in membership to CFA, a community legal entity tasked in joint-forest management with the government.The economic benefits and CFA membership were key factors in reducing illegal activities and pressure to the forest.Further 261000 seedlings of economic wild species were planted on-farm.

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

The Karundas community seed collection group, which has a membership of 65 women operate within Kabaru Forest Block, in an area estimated 300ha. This area is dominated by croton and cape chestnut tree population, with seeds estimated worth of USD 18000/annum. Since 2016, the group has been collecting seeds and delivering to HBV ltd. With the help of CFA, which offer protection and monitor health of habitat, the group has gradually increased the amount of seeds delivery to 3.2 tons(croton) and 0.8 tons(cape chestnut), earning USD 12000 in 2019. This means each member received on average USD 185.There have been several implications to this extra income: 1. The 300ha of indigenous forest area, where the group operate has not lost a tree illegally, since 2018.There is no case of charcoal burning. 2. The group have voluntary participated in reforestation of 12.ha of degraded part of the forest. 3. Through the group effort 23782 seedlings of economic trees have been planted on-farm.

14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

There are a number of initiatives in our region. 1. Joint World Bank/Kenya government is implementing ‘Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Program”t to reduce poverty and increase climate resilience. 2. Mount Kenya Environmental Conservation (MKEC) is implementing a program "Tree Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Scheme". that supports CFA to plant trees, while cultivating crops in the forest. 3. Nature Kenya is working on a project “Tana Natural Resources Management Project” to boost restoration of the Mt. Kenya forest through capacity building of CFAs. 4. Mount Kenya Trust (MKT) is working to protect and conserve the forest, water and wildlife around Mount Kenya. The difference in all the above programs with our project is that none is dealing with NWFPs; none adopt the model of social enterprise and value chain approach and as far as we are concerned oue model of 3Bs is unique to HSHC. And we have the best sustainability model- market-led conservation approach.

15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

The project has received the following awards and recognition 1. SEEDS SAG Award, sponsored by Switch Africa Green and UNEP 2. The best innovative award, Ministry of commerce and industry in collaboration with JICA, Nyeri Agriculture Show 3. E4 IMPACT accelerator program 4. ECO-Total Award 5. Stay Alliance-Germany

16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

The 2019 income totaled, USD 290000 which can be categorized as follows: Individual donations or gifts _2__% Foundation or NGO grants _12__% Grants or contracts _59__% Earned income (product sales.) __27_%

17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?

This project is meant to be a case study for influencing implementation of similar projects in other geographical areas, rich in biodiversity, nationally, regionally and globally. It is meant to influence policy recognition and allocation of resources in the currently neglected area of nature based enterprise, specifically NWFPs. In order to influence replication and influence policy, the project will; -Conduct and disseminate a case study to development actors and governments. -Float the project updates regularl at HSHC website -Participate in workshops nationally and globally - Host high level visits to the project sites The prize money will be invested in: 1. Further build local capacity in “best seeds collection practices”and tree domestication on-farm 2. Establish essential oils quality assurance facility to satisfy market demand 3. Invest further in R&D in the conversion of husks and seed cake (by-product of oil processing) as charcoal and animal feed respect

18. Pitch-video (finalists only)

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far


Yes, absolutely! - 40%

Yes/maybe - 60%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%


5 —Absolutely! It’s crystal clear how the solution is directly contributing to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity. - 20%

4—Yes, it establishes a clear connection to biodiversity. - 20%

3—Somewhat, the entry speaks to biodiversity but the direct impact is not well established and/or it is focused on a single species without considering its impact on the broader ecosystem - 60%

2—Not really, the connection to biodiversity is weak - 0%

1—No. The entry does not reference the solution’s impact on biodiversity. - 0%

3. 3) Is this entry IMPACTFUL?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 20%

4- Yes, I think so. - 80%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

4. 4) Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 40%

4- Yes, I think so. - 20%

3- Maybe. - 40%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

5. 5) Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 20%

4- Yes, I think so. - 60%

3- Maybe. - 20%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%


5 -Yes, absolutely! - 20%

4- Yes, I think so. - 60%

3- Maybe. - 20%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

7. 7) Does this entry value COLLABORATION WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS in its approach?

5- Yes, absolutely! - 40%

4- Yes, I think ko. - 60%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

8. 8) FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions - 75%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 50%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 75%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 50%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 25%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 25%

Other option - 0%

9. 9) FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 100%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 50%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 50%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming - 50%

Other option - 50%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jeff Thorsen

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