Mmakwena Moesi: Co-Founder and Operations Manager

Mmakwena, a biologist by profession, coordinates the overall business strategy and development of Viva Organica. She is 31 years old and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Botswana with post work experience in research and project management.

Her main focus of interest is research and applying soil microbiology in ecologically conscious agriculture, climate resilient farming and self-sufficiency practices. For the past two years she has undergone business management with various competitions, acceleration and training programmes such as FemBioBiz, Startup Smart, and the Stanford go to market program. A recent big win she scored for the business is when she pitched to the Youth Adapt challenge 2022 jury and scooped a grant fund award of $100 000 to scale the business.

Amogelang Masi: Co-Founder and Marketing Lead

Amo is a computer engineer turned farmer who is dedicated to exploring ways to create circular patterns of consumption that provide local people more opportunities of participating in their respective economies. Hhe co-founded Viva Organica, his dream being to democratise Africa’s natural resources.

Amo has a degree in Computer Systems Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Sunderland, United Kingdom. He also obtained an Associate’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and he studied Entrepreneurship Skills at the University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development, South Africa.

Mmakwena Moesi

CEO, Viva Organica

Business Location: Gaborone, Botswana

Type: Start-Up
Year of Founding: 2019
Number of Employees: 5
Co-Founders: Mmakwena Moesi and Amogelang Masi

Business Model

A company manufacturing agricultural inputs (biofertilisers), Viva Organica aims to promote the use of natural farming inputs and techniques that do not harm the environment and to support farmers and farming communities in growing nutrient-rich food sustainably.

The common linear way of growing food is not sustainable for both the environment and the economic status of all the actors involved in the food value chain, from the food grower to the end consumer. Additionally, the waste produced by the livestock and horticulture industries, as well as by fresh fruit and vegetable retailers and restaurants is discarded in landfills. As a net exporter of beef, Botswana slaughters nearly 220,000 cows per year while a cow produces about 3 tonnes of solid biomass per year.

Viva Organica taps into the opportunity that this immense amount of biowaste offers by including it into a circular economy business model. The company transforms kitchen waste and animal manure into highly nutritious, organic natural farming inputs rich in nutrients and probiotics. A social company, Viva Organica seeks to support farmers in Africa by specifically addressing the high costs of fertilisers and low accessibility to organic fertilisers.

Viva Organica pioneers the recovery of biowaste generated by livestock and agriculture and the creation of a circular economy for agriculture inputs in Botswana.

Relationships with Smallholders

Viva Organica sources waste from large commercial animal feedlots that generate cow dung as a waste product. Currently these feedlots do not have a waste management solution and tip their waste in enormous piles that grow perpetually. Additionally, food processing companies and restaurants produce copious amounts of organic waste such as fruit rinds and peels. Viva Organica has arrangements with these enterprises to redeem their waste and manufacture organic farming inputs to support local farmers in increasing their yields production volume sustainably. The company has so far reduced the cost of fertiliser by 25% thus improving access to organic inputs.

Products and Markets

Viva Organica manufactures two flagship products that are enhanced with microbial cultures to improve soil fertility, plant health and yields.

  • Vermogro: A 100% natural, safe, odorless, and eco-friendly organic granular fertiliser for use in all crops. It is locally manufactured using a biotech process that involves processing animal manures to produce a potent vermicompost enriched with beneficial soil microbes, humic acids and plant growth hormones.

BioBrew: A liquid biostimulant and organic fertiliser made from enriched compost tea brewed with premium worm castings, plant extracts and beneficial microbes suitable for use in all crops.

Viva Organica supplies the local market, including through home deliveries in Gaborone and surrounding areas. The consumer base ranges from small home-growers up to large operations in hectares of land.

The company is serving the agricultural sector with organic farming inputs and has acquired commercial agrochemical training.

Innovations: Milestones and Expansion Plans

Since its creation, the company has expanded to make products fit for the market, with the whole business supported by transforming the waste of just eight cows. The products are produced using a biotechnological process called vermicomposting, an improved and rapid version of composting aided by earthworms (eisenia fetida) whose worm castings perform as an excellent soil conditioner. This closed loop model is operating as a viable business that contributes to less emissions and the reduction of landfill waste.

Viva Organica aims to reduce the cost of fertiliser by of 50% by 2024 to further improve access to organic inputs. With the support of its partners, the company is also seeking to expand its business to reach more capacities and territories.

Success Factors and Lessons Learned

Viva Organica is an innovative company that is capturing the issue of waste as a massive opportunity to generate value for the agriculture sector and increase its resilience to climate change, as well as a tool to step out of poverty. Viva Organica’s circular approach enables to supply local farmers with affordable nutrient-rich inputs who, in turn, are able to supply the community with (more) organically grown produce. This business supports farmers, strengthens food and nutritional security and boosts climate action by offering accessible and affordable products that improve soil moisture and overall soil health, which enhances climate resilience and promotes the sustainable growth of nutrient-rich food.

The company engages with several stakeholders who support its development, including AfriLabs, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), the Botswana Digital and Innovation Hub (BIH) and the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).

During COP27 in 2022, Viva Organica was aptly recognised for its support to climate change adaptation and resilience building in Africa as one of the winners of the African Youth Adaptation Solutions Challenge (YouthADAPT) competition. This award recognises the contributions of the youth-led enterprise to improving soil moisture and overall soil health through their products. In addition to the grant awarded to the winners, Viva Organica will also benefit from a 12-month accelerator programme that will support the growth of the business, increasing its impact and the creation of decent jobs.

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