Rwandan coffee, being ranked among the top 30 leading coffees in the world, is a big part of the Rwandan economy. For this reason, lots of families depend on coffee production. Since the annual coffee harvest provides their only income, the coffee farmers need to properly distribute this income over the whole year to make ends meet.
A possibility to solve this problem is to create a more continuous income for the coffee farmers by using one of the waste streams of coffee bean production. By using pulp made out of the coffee husks as a substrate for the cultivation of oyster mushrooms, the local inhabitants are not only getting a more stable income, but also the coffee cycle gets closed. To achieve this, the start-up ‘Moulin du Nil Blanc Ltd (MNB)’ has been established a few years ago. The aim of this company is to collect the coffee bean husks and make substrate bags of them, inoculated with the mycelium of the mushroom. Afterwards, the bags are sold to the local coffee farmers, who complete the final stage of the mushroom cultivation by growing and harvesting the fungi. The option then remains for the farmers to sell them at a higher price or consume them. Currently, MNB is only selling substrate bags with the more expensive cotton cake instead of coffee pulp. They want to switch the process to coffee pulp when the start-up is ready for this.
The goal of this project is to make sure the company becomes financially healthy. By collecting economical data of the company, the intention is to find the bottlenecks and tackle these problems. To achieve this goal, two things can be done. On the one hand the cultivation process is not yet fully optimised, especially for the cultivation on coffee pulp. The previous humasol group focused on the optimisation of the process, mainly including substrate optimisation and parameter optimisation (temperature, humidity,…). This will be continued during this year. On the other hand, the current customer base is not yet extensive enough. For this reason, it is also important to focus on the marketing, in order to extend the reach of the company on the market.
For this project, we are working closely together with the founder of MNB, Zilipa Nyirabyago. She is a Belgian biologist of Rwandan origin and also is the inventor of Solidev VZW, an organisation that is committed for the well-being in Rwanda. MNB gets support and accompaniment from Ondernemers for Ondernemers (OvO), during 2019-2022.
Toon De Vil
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