Five months ago, Fair and Sustainable Consulting (F&S) and DanChurchAid (DCA) embarked on a journey to find the best young entrepreneurs in Nakuru County to set up commercial Black Soldier Fly (BSF) farms under the umbrella of Fair & Sustainable Insect Farms.
The BSF initiative is part of the Agritech Solutions Project implemented by DCA, and financed by DMDP – Danida Market Development Partnerships – a Danida funded initiative. The project aims to enhance the capacity of SMEs to create circular business models that profitably utilize agro-waste for increased job creation and environmental sustainability. The entrepreneurs will be supported to create circular business models that profitably utilize organic waste into reliable, profitable and more sustainable sources of animal protein and organic compost, resulting in reduced food waste and greenhouse gas emissions, green jobs, and increased incomes. After a thorough selection process, 8 enthusiastic youth from across Nakuru were selected to become part of Fair & Sustainable Insect Farms.
The selection process
The application announcement of the opportunity for commercial BSF farming was distributed across Nakuru County in March 2022. It was shared through popular social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook, and shared in DCA’s ongoing projects, such as the Ajira Poa project. We aimed to recruit especially young women, so we sent the announcement to various women groups as well. Interested youth had the opportunity to ask all their questions at one of the physical information meetings held in Nakuru Town in April. Candidates could easily apply by scanning the QR code in the announcement. We received a total of 65 applications, of which 42 were from men, and 23 from women.
All applications were assessed by the project team on the basic entry criteria and motivation. 50 candidates were selected to participate in the subsequent selection process, dubbed the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp. This bootcamp consisted of three live selection moments with assignments. After each selection moment, candidates were eliminated based on transparent assessment criteria.
The Entrepreneurs Bootcamp process took three months, from April to June 2022. In the first round, we focused on explaining more about BSF, the franchise model, and the business elements. It included an assignment, where each candidate had to identify waste streams, an appropriate farm location, and market potential in Nakuru. The second bootcamp focused on the entrepreneurship aspect of the applicants, their business mindset, and leadership skills. After the second bootcamp, home visits to the 13 remaining candidates were conducted. In the third and last round, the final selection was made through individual interviews with project team representatives.
Engaging young women as entrepreneurs
From the start, we observed that despite our efforts to actively reach out to them, fewer women applied for the opportunity than men, and their dropout rate was higher throughout the bootcamp selection. A higher risk aversion towards this relatively new farming activity and to taking a business loan, as well as access to land, could have contributed to this. Also, due to cultural norms and expectations, young women tend to identify less as entrepreneurs, even though they often run microentreprises, such as chapati stalls or mitumba shops. The available 10 slots were divided 50/50, so that an equal number of men and women could participate. However, because only 3 women were successful at the end of the selection process, we now have selected 8 enthusiastic young BSF entrepreneurs, 5 men and 3 women. This means that there are still two spots open for qualified women who can apply and join later during the project.
Based on the experience in the bootcamp, we will be able to improve our selection so that more women are encouraged to apply and make it through the selection process. This is part of our adaptive programming, and key to the success of the project. Both F&S and DCA are keen to empower more women to participate in such development opportunities.
Interested to learn more or collaborate with us in BSF farming? Contact us –
For the project in Nakuru, Emmy Mugasia: email@example.com
For F&S Insect Farms, Laura Martinussen: firstname.lastname@example.org