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.

Photo of J-Palm Liberia
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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.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

J-Palm Liberia

Year founded

2013

Initiative stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 10,000 - 50,000

Organization type

  • For-profit

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Liberia

Headquarters location: City

Monrovia

Location(s) of impact

Liberia: Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, Nimba, Gbarpolu

Website

http://www.jpalmliberia.com

Facebook URL

https://web.facebook.com/jpalmliberia

Twitter URL

https://twitter.com/jpalmliberia

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%
Grants: 10%

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.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Social media
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Attachments (18)

2. Inefficient and unsanitary traditional oil extraction.jpg

In rural Liberia, smallholders use their hands to extract palm oil, resulting in 50% oil loss

3. Lack of road infrastructure in rural Liberia.jpg

Rural smallholder farmers in Liberia also contend with the lack of critical infrastructure such as roads, resulting in minimal access to markets.

4. J-Palm solves a last-mile problem.jpg

J-Palm Liberia operates in the most remote, difficult-to-reach communities, creating access to simple, labor-saving oil palm processing machines.

5. installing oil palm mill in rural community.jpg

J-Palm Liberia operates in the most remote, difficult-to-reach communities, creating access to simple, labor-saving oil palm processing machines.

6. village residents at oil palm mill demonstration.jpg

Residents of a rural Liberian community watch as engineer demonstrates how to use the palm oil mini mill. These machines reduce processing times by 90%, and increase oil extraction rates by 50%

7. Purchasing Palm Kernels from Smallholders - Kparnebu.jpg

In addition to red palm oil, J-Palm Liberia also purchases the hitherto wasted palm kernels from smallholders, creating an additional income source.

8. mother and child - palm kernels.jpg

In addition to red palm oil, J-Palm Liberia also purchases the hitherto wasted palm kernels from smallholders, creating an additional income source.

13. Miatta Fahnbulleh.png

J-Palm Liberia processes the palm kernels into cold-pressed, virgin palm kernel oil and packages the oils for skincare purposes. Our product line includes moisturizers, baby oil, beard oil, hair conditioners, and soaps.

briquettes.jpg

Our next product: SuperCoal - clean energy, smokeless charcoal briquettes made of palm kernel shells. Palm Kernel Shells have high calorific value, which means that they emit more heat and burn longer. When priced similar to regular wood charcoal, we can help reduce demand for wood charcoal and hence reduce deforestation rates in Liberia.

12. Wilson Johnson.jpg

Our cold-pressed palm kernel oil has gained significant traction in Liberia due to its anti-acne, anti-pimple, and anti-fungal properties.

Savina collage for printing (1).jpg

Our cold-pressed palm kernel oil has gained significant traction in Liberia due to its anti-acne, anti-pimple, and anti-fungal properties. As a results, our sales have grown at an average of 87% month-over-month this year.

Baby George collage for printing.jpg

Our cold-pressed palm kernel oil has gained significant traction in Liberia due to its anti-acne, anti-pimple, and anti-fungal properties. As a results, our sales have grown at an average of 87% month-over-month this year.

sales reps with products.jpg

In the process, we are creating much-needed employment for young people as Sales Reps. Our goal is to employ 1000 Sales Reps throughout Liberia within the next 12 months.

11. Partial view of factory workers.jpg

We also create employment for many people who work at our factory - mostly women and youth.

team at palm kernel oil factory- cred= J-Palm Liberia.png

We also create employment for many people who work at our factory - mostly women and youth.

JPL scholarship recipients.jpg

In September 2017 we launched the J-Palm Liberia Scholarship Fund for our Sales Reps, and a majority of them chose to list their children as beneficiaries. This gets to the heart of why we operate: We believe that the future of Liberia relies on our ability to maximize the value of our resources, and create decent employment for our people. When people are economically empowered, they have the freedom to invest in their futures and their children's futures.

20160905_NAH_3341_TB_Visit_Day2_008.jpg

Our work at J-Palm Liberia has generated significant attention from policymakers locally and internationally - including a visit from former British PM Tony Blair, and official recognition from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

MJ_EJS_Ruforum_1.png

Our work at J-Palm Liberia has generated significant attention from policymakers locally and internationally - including a visit from former British PM Tony Blair, and official recognition from Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

This inspired (1)

RISE SUPER FLOUR

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