Transforming 'Waste' into Income, Jobs, and Better Livelihoods for Rural Liberian Communities
J-Palm increases incomes for rural Liberian smallholder oil palm farmers by 263% by creating access to improved machinery and markets.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.
Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Location(s) of impact
Liberia: Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, Nimba, Gbarpolu
Palm trees grow naturally throughout Liberia like grass, without anyone having to plant. This organic oil palm variety possess tremendous health benefits, yet the smallholders who process them live in abject poverty.
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
Palm trees grow naturally in the wilds in Liberia. Unfortunately, most of the smallholder oil palm producers who reside in rural areas live in extreme poverty and hence lack access to technology to properly extract the oils, often taking up to 8 hours to process 200kg of palm fruit. After extracting palm oil, the smallholders either burn the oil seeds (palm kernels), or dump them into rivers and streams, creating serious rural air pollution.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
J-Palm Liberia owns and operates mini oil palm mills in rural areas, where smallholders use our equipment to process their palm oil at zero up-front cost. In return, J-Palm retains a fraction of the oils produced, and exercises the option to purchase the smallholders’ share of the oils at ongoing market rates, creating immediate access to a customer. J-Palm also purchases the hitherto-wasted palm kernels from smallholders, creating a second income source. We process the palm kernels into a range of organic health and beauty products - including moisturizers, conditioners and soaps. We are currently setting up a plant to carbonize the palm kernel shells and process them into Liberia's first-ever brand of clean energy, smokeless charcoal briquettes for cooking. This year, we have created 338 jobs for Liberian youth as Sales Representatives, who earn an average of 35% sales commission.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
Our mini mills reduce processing time by 90% and increase palm oil extraction rates by 50%, resulting in an increase in average smallholder monthly income from $33 to $120 - a 263% increase! This income growth has enabled all of the 520 smallholder households with whom we work to send their children to school, and to reduce the probability of going to bed without food from 42% to 12%. Additionally, we have helped eliminate the environmental pollution caused by improper palm kernel disposal in all 8 of the communities where we work. When SuperCoal, our clean energy charcoal product comes to market in early 2018, we will create greater environmental impact. 99.5% of Liberian households use wood charcoal for cooking fuel, contributing to rapid deforestation. SuperCoal will help reduce this problem by creating an affordable, energy-efficient alternative to wood charcoal.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
Earned income: 90%
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
We are differentiated by our focus on value-addition, creating strong brands, and continuous R&D.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
My aunt used to run a small palm oil business - purchase palm oil from smallholder producers in rural areas and sell to retailers in the city. However, due to supply chain inefficiencies and low smallholder productivity, her suppliers became increasingly unreliable, with a few too many shortages. Erratic supply ultimately led to her bankruptcy. My aunt's experience piqued my interest in the oil palm sector. My motivation was to set up a company that better served people like my aunt – a vertically integrated business that worked to improve smallholder productivity in rural areas, and aggregated palm oil from smallholders to transport and supply directly to distributors in urban areas.
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