We demonostrate how strategic partnerships involving interlinked businesses and partners can drive system change.
In a business ecosystem, companies co-evolve capabilities around an innovation: they work cooperatively and competitively to support new products, satisfy customer needs, and eventually incorporate the next round of innovations. At Enviu, we are solving complex issues. That is why we need multiple interlinked solutions that build on one another towards the same goal.
Enviu takes a pioneering role and strategically takes this business ecosystem approach as part of the planning of successful, cooperating ventures. We invite other businesses to join and showcase a new approach that others can take inspiration from and build further.
With FoodFlow, we have proven how a planned business ecosystem, and a set of strategic and interlinked businesses can drive system change.
In Kenya, the average fruit and vegetable value chain and sourcing from smallholder farmers see up to about 50% of post-harvest loss.
By building multiple collaborative business models, which address the inefficiencies in the supply chain, we have proven that it is possible to have 0% post-harvest losses. We also do it in a way where every stakeholder benefits.
How a holistic approach works
With only one solution, you neither solve nor change the existing system. That’s why we took a holistic approach, and together with our partners, we built multiple solutions.
For example, to make cold chain innovation accessible to farmers, we built a unique business model around the cold room technology of Eco-zen Solutions. This resulted in SokoFresh. However, simply placing a cold room at the farm level won’t work. Farmers have no incentive to use SokoFresh’s cold room: Why store your produce in a cold storage facility if it isn’t going anywhere?
Hence, we needed to focus on market access and facilitating that trade. Teaming up with Digifarm allows us to pay farmers directly, on the spot, so they don’t have to wait more than a week for their income.
We are also exploring the certification of small farmers, together with One Acre Fund, to open up new overseas markets such as Europe. This allows us to double their incomes further. In another part of the value chain, we worked together with Taimba to streamline urban distribution, and get the produce to the small kiosks in the cities (mama mboga’s) with minimal losses.
The final challenge is what to do with the ‘ugly’ produce that no one wants to buy — the rejects. Here, a value-added solution (Shambani Pro) forms the final piece of the puzzle. Processing those rejects into new products that have a new market, like avocado oil. Shambani Pro worked with Avomeru and Safi Power to set up the oil press and the solar power installation, and builds on the market linkage business to access markets.
Just like we believe (re)building an integral value chain is the key to fundamentally changing a system, we need funding partners who believe in our entrepreneurial approach to make this happen.
Luckily, we have found the right partners who trust our process and have been crucial in enabling us, and in turn, the impact we make: IKEA Foundation, DOEN Foundation, Rabobank Foundation, PREO / UKAID, EEP Africa, P4G, WE4F / GIZ.
Curious to learn more about the process?
This article was published in Enviu Impact Magazine 2022.