Alpha Mushrooms

We use agricultural wastes to grow mushroom.The used up-organic substrate is given farmers to use instead of using inorganic fertilizers.

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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

Mr Evans Nyagaka

Initiative's representative date of birth

2-4-1997

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Kenya

Headquarters location: city

Nairobi

Where are you making a difference?

SAME

Website or social media url(s)

Not available for now

Date Started

july-2019

Project Stage

  • Start-up (first few activities have happened)

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

  • €50k - €100k

Organization Type

  • Youth-led 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.

The founders saw the opportunity to engage in mushrooms farming because of the potential they saw especially in the soils that are not arable in Kenya. Places like Turkana,some parts of rift valley in Kenya are not good for agriculture hence they are left bare without use.This project is geared in utilizing these unusable lands that they can be converted into usable lands.Mushroom farming uses various agricultural wastes to grow mushrooms not using soil.We mix the wastes organically and after the substrate is used up,we dispose the wastes into the community land of farmers hence helping them use organic manure instead of inorganic fertilizer hence helping in maintaining soils diversity and even maintaining the soil and soils fertility.

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

The problem we are in the process of solving is restoring our soil fertility using used up organic manure from mushroom substrate. The current problem in our agriculture sector is using of artificial fertilizers that depletes the soil fertility and killing the important soil micro organisms.This problem still exists because farmers have no better alternative of improving soil nutrients. We are here to provide a better alternative of improving soil fertility and maintaining the soil ecosystem

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

We are working to solve this problem by partnering with the local farmers and educating them the importance of using organic manure over artificial fertilizer. After we are done withe the mushrooms substrate which contains high levels of nitrogen and other soil nutrients ,we dispose off these substrate into the farmers farms .We are planning to do packaging of these used up substrate and supplying them to the local farms upon agreement with the farmers. As we are also growing the business,we are planning to begin mushroom farming in places in Kenya that are not arable for agriculture so that we can utilize the unused lands for simple agriculture. As we are also doing the mushroom planting ,we will also be using the used up substrate to develop these lands and improving the soil fertility of the local unused farms.In the long term these unused lands will be used for other agricultural practices hence improving the livelihood of the community.

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

We are purely using organic agricultural wastes to plant mushrooms .The mushrooms as they are growing release nitrogen to the substrate to the compost .There are other nutrients like Magnesium,Zinc,potassium that are organically found in the substrate of the mushrooms. This is unlike other mushroom growers who grow mushrooms using inorganic chemicals. After the substrate is used up,we dry it then dispose them to nearby farmers before planting season.The manure is dissolved to the soil when the rain come,this replaces the use of inorganic fertilizers and increases yields of the farmer according to the farmers harvest.Farmers using fertilizers deplete soil microorganisms whereas we enhance their multiplication increasing soil fertility.

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

We are currently working with agricultural extension officers who help us in improving our venture and helping us to partner with other local farmers. We are also working towards partnering with community based organization to rehabilitate drug addicts especially alcoholics in the community to teach them on mushroom farming so that they can also go and set up their own mushroom farms and do the same thing we are doing of restoring the soils in our community. We are also looking forward to partner with agricultural researchers in the future so that they can help us in developing more organic manure and even how to package it to meet different needs of various farms. We are also looking forward to partner with the county government so that we can develop a fully equipped training center of farmers on using organic manure on their farms instead of using other fertilizers. as we grow we are looking forward to seek advice from policy makers to advice us on how to infertile lands

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?

So far our business has been able to produce quality organic mushrooms to supermarkets and grocery shops and we help in sensitizing the public the importance of mushroom production through using our business stickers so far we have reached almost 500 people who are consuming our mushrooms and our products are on demand because of the quality we produce.We have been also able to provide employment opportunities for the local young people of the community we are operating in and the number we are dealing with right now of 6 youths are being transformed by our own initiative . We are currently supplying our used up organic manure from the used up substrate to the local neighboring farmers. Currently we are serving one farmer and actually what we produce is not able to cover the whole farm.This is because we are small scale .We are targeting to reach out to ten farmers by the end of 2020. We have not engaged other outside communities because we are a bit limited still working on this

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

We are in the process of growing our business from Nairobi to other counties like Rift valley and eastern Kenya.This is because we want to utilize farms that are not used for agriculture for mushrooms farming. We will do this by ploughing back the profits of the business so that we can open other mushrooms centers.This new branches will be involved n rehabilitation of special groups of the community by actively engaging them in mushrooms farming.By this we will also be able to educate the locals on the importance of using the organic manure obtained from the mushroom substrate. By doing this we will be impacting the community in diverse ways. Our business is registered and we also want to register it as a community based organization.

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

We are creating shared value by first creating employment opportunities to the young people around the community,we pay them well so that they can sustain their families. we are also in the process of partnering with a community based organization to rehabilitate drug addicts in our community especially alcohol addicts who spend their entire day drinking. Hence we want to bring them to our business to rehabilitate them through training them soft skills in business as we give the casual job in our farm,and also as we empower them to begin doing mushroom farming by helping them form teams.This will far much help the community reduce crime rates and also empower the whole community socially .

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?

We are currently funding our project by ploughing back the profits to the business to create more mushrooms houses so that in the long run create more organic manure to local farmers.This will help us in the shirt term to grow our business and in the long term help us manage our business well. we are also looking forward to get funding from this program because this program has goals that are in line to the goals of our business so I look forward to get funding from this program. This plan in this program will help us scale our business better and alongside funding ,train us on how to better our business for the benefit of Kenya. This Program's funding will also link us with professionals who will help us plan for our finances.

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?

We are a team of 8 people headed by two young men.We have Mr Evans who is a biologist from the University of Nairobi who is a qualified scientist in biology field ,able to build workable business strategies . We have Mr Andrew who is a microbiologist from the University of Nairobi also a qualified Scientist able to build a strong team of workers and . We have 6 employees who help us on a part time basis who are also skilled in farming . We plan to bring into board agricultural researchers.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine
  • Recommended by others
  • Vittel page or contact
  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. 1) OVERALL EVALUATION

Yes, absolutely! - 25%

Yes/maybe - 75%

Maybe - 0%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. 2) CONNECTION TO BIODIVERSITY

5 —Absolutely! It’s crystal clear how the solution is directly contributing to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity. - 25%

4—Yes, it establishes a clear connection to biodiversity. - 50%

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 - 25%

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! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 50%

3- Maybe. - 25%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

4. 4) Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 25%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 50%

1- No. - 0%

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

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4- Yes, I think so. - 50%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

6. 6) Is this entry ACTIVATING CHANGEMAKING?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 50%

3- Maybe. - 25%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

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

5- Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think ko. - 75%

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 - 0%

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 - 33.3%

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 - 33.3%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 33.3%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 33.3%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 0%

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 - 0%

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? - 0%

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? - 50%

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. - 50%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

Other option - 0%

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