How flies drive revenue for this agritech company

Ecodudu is a fascinating waste-to-value company based in Kenya. They recycle organic waste into animal feed and organic fertilizer using the black soldier fly. This week we caught up with their founder, Adan Mohammed, to learn more.

What challenge does Ecodudu solve?

Global wealth is increasing, leading to an increase in meat and fish consumption. Indeed, demand for these products will increase 70 percent by 2050, with the rise predominantly fuelled by increased consumption in Asia and Africa.

Stocks of the small fish used to produce fishmeal (animal feed), mainly fished from Lake Victoria, have collapsed dramatically in recent years. Prices, conversely, have increased fivefold in the last 15 years, heaping considerable economic pressure on farmers around the world.

As a result, it is of vital importance to develop alternative sources of high-quality protein while offering a competitive price.

Ecodudu provides much needed alternative protein to the animal feed sector. We use proprietary innovation to recycle organic waste into high-protein animal feed and organic fertilizer using the black soldier fly.

What‘s the story behind the company?

Ecodudu’s co-founders met at an expo in Nairobi in 2017 and decided to join forces in creating a scientific project both were passionate about. A few months down the line, we saw it was possible to monetise the idea and thus Ecodudu was born.

What were you doing before founding the company?

I operated an animal feed milling company where we compounded feed for poultry and pigs targeting markets in Central Kenya. It is here that I got real insights into the challenges facing the animal feed sector.

How did you get Ecodudu off the ground?

We managed to join the African Entrepreneurship Award in the same year. The boot camp was a week long in Casablanca, Morocco where we had access to some of the top mentors on the continent. We also received grant funding from the accelerator to develop a business case for our project.

How much money have you raised so far?

We have raised $200K in our pre-seed round.

What went into building the early stage product?

Since it’s new frontier, we couldn’t find a lot of research done on the Black Soldier Fly. We invested close to $150K into research trials over a period of two years. This gave us tremendous insights and data that forms a strong foundation for our product.

We currently have two products in the market. Dudumeal and Shamba Mix.

Dudumeal is a poultry feed, fish feed and amphibian feed. It is made from Black Soldier Fly larvae which is an excellent source of proteins, fat, energy, vitamins and minerals. This can substitute the use of soya bean and fish meal (omena) for better results. Shamba Mix is our bio-fertilizer used for enhancing plant growth.

Where do you currently operate?

We have recently relocated to Kenya’s biggest fruit farm. It is a strategic move that will enable Ecodudu to access fresh organic waste that will ensure we can produce insect protein that meets the highest international standards. 

What’s your business model?

We use organic waste as the main raw material which is recycled by insects into bio-fertilizer (Shamba Mix) for horticultural crops. The insects (Dudumeal) are a good source of protein which is sold to animal feed manufacturers.

What metric do you use to measure success and why?

Success is measured by the total tonnage of insect protein we give to the market. For every tonne of Dudumeal we produce we help save almost 4 tonnes of small fish that would be used to make animal feed. 

🇰🇪 A glance at Kenyan startups in 2020

$191 million raised in total accounting for 27% of the continent’s total investment.

The largest round was from agritech company Twiga Foods ($29 million).

22 startups raised $1 million or more.

Most diversified funding on the continent with startups across fintech, ecommerce, agritech, logistics, healthtech.

What’s your advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Choose a job that you love. It is easier to flourish and perform at high levels when you love what you do. There will always be parts of our work that we don’t enjoy.  But if we can decrease or ignore those parts, we can gain leverage to succeed. Enjoyable work adds challenge, growth, connection, meaning, and an income stream.

What do you love most about running Ecodudu?

I love moving around the farm out there in nature and making products that people need at the same time. Ecodudu is a biotech venture and thus sometimes things may not move as much as we would like.

What company do you look to for inspiration?

I look at Next Protein for inspiration. It is an example of how youth are creating solutions for the African continent.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far?

Hire the right team. Smart hiring is an incredibly important factor to get right for the long-term success of the business. CEO’s shouldn’t be reluctant to terminate those employees who just are not working out.

What are your views on the African tech ecosystem?

There is a disproportionate influence of Silicon Valley investment on Africa’s top tech hubs in Lagos, Nairobi and Cape Town. The culture has been transferred wholesale to the African Ecosystem despite Africa being a diverse continent.

And even where there are local tech investors many have adopted the expectations of their better funded counterparts. This locks out solutions that are best suited for the ecosystem. The effects of this will be long term and will be felt in years to come.

In the News 🚀

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🇾🇪 Egyptian logistics startup Flextock has raised a $3.25 million in pre-seed funding to scale across the MENA region.

🇷🇼 Rwandan e-commerce startup Kasha secured an undisclosed funding round from Mastercard which adds to existing $3 million Series A.