O-FARMS: MAKING CIRCULAR AGRIBUSINESS A MAINSTREAM APPROACH BY 2025
Implemented by Hive Colab, initiated by Bopinc and Village Capital, in partnership with IKEA foundation, O-Farms Uganda’s First Circular Agribusiness Accelerator brought together a diverse cohort of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The SMEs are leveraging the many losses and by-products generated from the agricultural value chains that are often disposed as waste, yet have huge potential for circular agribusiness models with tremendous business opportunities and business models for reusing agricultural food losses or waste, and by-products back into the food system to produce human food or food supplements, animal feed, biodegradable packaging for food and beverages, bioenergy, organic fertilizers and compost.
Through the set eligibility criteria, the program identified circular agribusiness SMEs pioneering ingenious solutions to reuse agricultural byproducts and food losses back into the food system. These visionary entrepreneurs showcased remarkable ingenuity and repurposing for example rice husks as animal feed and fertilizer. Their creativity and resourcefulness set the stage for a transformative journey.
The selected SMEs were nurtured through;
• Customized 3 months training program on agri-circularity business
• Technical Assistance to embed circularity principles in the business model including strengthening the systems and processes.
• Coaching and Mentorship – personalized mentoring and coaching to unpack training into business implementation
• Links to financial and investment opportunities
• Peer learning to strengthen innovations and build a community of best practices in agri-circularity.
• Networking opportunities to showcase a solution and meet with investors and other stakeholders.
• A total of Euros 100,000 seed grants was awarded to the SMEs.
This enabled the SMEs to understand the intricacies of circular supply chains and develop robust business models.
Guided by experienced mentors and coaches, the entrepreneurs were equipped with the tools and knowledge to translate their training into tangible business implementation. The program also facilitated networking opportunities, connecting the SMEs with potential investors and industry stakeholders. Such connections opened doors to funding and investment opportunities, enabling the SMEs to scale their ventures and amplify their impact.
Moreover, the O-Farms accelerator fostered a sense of community and peer learning among the SMEs. Through collaborative exchanges and shared experiences, these trailblazing innovators strengthened their solutions and built a support network rooted in best practices in Agri-circularity.
The SMEs that participated in the O-Farms accelerator program epitomized the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. Their groundbreaking ideas, coupled with unwavering determination, showcased the transformative potential of circularity in agriculture. By harnessing agricultural by-products and repurposing them into valuable products, these SMEs not only reduced waste but also contributed to the creation of a more sustainable and inclusive future.
The O-Farms exemplified how circularity can revolutionize the agricultural sector, improving livelihoods, enhancing sustainability, and setting a new standard for agricultural practices in Uganda steering the transition from linear to circular food systems for improved livelihoods and sustainability.