We tackle zero hunger by solving underlying issue of access to nutrient rich food. It is a self-sustaining business model that produces and sells a nutrient packed cricket based toddler cereal and bread. Crickets are an environmentally sustainable and cheap source of high protein. Through opening a local production facility that will farm crickets and produce products which will then be sold at an affordable price to the community. A byproduct of this process will be a nutrient rich fertilizer.
The customer segment for this project is women/mothers who live in Kajiado, Kenya. These people live in poverty and do not have enough money to access nutritious foods that they need daily. According to the country profile, “46% of the population in Kenya live on less than $1USD a day”. Things they value include being able to provide for their family, having time to take care of their children and cost effective ways to feed their children. Similar to women in other developing countries these women are very busy, if they are not working in the farm they are scavenging for food to feed their children. One of the biggest pains that they currently face as farmers are the lack of fertile farming land, as well as dying crops from droughts. Other pains they face as women are unequal access to education, as well as difficulties finding paid work.
The beneficiary of this project are children under the age of five who live in Kajiado, Kenya. These children suffer from malnutrition which causes them many developmental problems. This leads to further complications such as stunting, which in addition to limiting their physical growth can also negatively impact cognitive functions. The benefits they need are nutritious food that will also satisfy their hunger. Another segment that will benefit from ProjectChirp, will be those who are unemployed particularly women who have difficulties finding jobs. ProjectChirp will need a lot of human capital to perform jobs such as farming the crickets, making the product, and distributing and selling the products as well. Furthermore, from selling a cheap and highly nutrient rich fertilizer our project will also benefit local farmers.
For malnourished and poverty stricken women and children, ProjectChirp is an affordable, highly nutritious and sustainable food product that will help them to meet their daily nutritional needs. The company will sell two products (infant cereal and bread) which are made from cricket flour. Crickets are highly sustainable and cheap because they provide nutrients such as protein, Vitamin B12 and iron (Huis et al., 2013), which are all essential nutrients that the customer segment is currently lacking. Customers will buy our products because our products create a very strong problem solution fit. Our customers seek foods that are both highly nutritious and filling, convenient and affordable. ProjectChirp’s products provide benefits customers with the benefits of cheap, easily consumed and most importantly many health benefits. Our products are not only nutritious, but they are also very affordable sold at 30 cents CAD (approximately 24 KES) per item since we have very low production costs. Mothers will then be able to feed their family in a cost effective manner. Furthermore, the two product offerings are designed with the end users preferences and convenience in mind. For mothers with very young infants and toddlers, the cereal will be easier for them to feed to their children as there is no chewing required. The bread is for older children as well as lactating mothers who still need the nutrients and like to eat food that has a solid chewy texture. Additionally, leavened bread is a very popular breakfast item that will be perceived very well culturally.
To gain customer trust, in the initial stages of the business we will partner with the local World Vision office to help us inform the locals and hand out samples. This will help us to increase customer awareness, as well as trust in our products since World Vision is an established and reputable organization in that area. Once awareness has been created our company will hire locals to not only produce, but to also sell our products. By doing so we are not only helping to employ the community, but our product will be better accepted and familiar to the customers since community members are affiliated with our company. Having this relationship will help to build trust in our brand and products creating a stronger and more loyal customer relationship.
Finally, since ProjectChirp is a social venture and our goal is to make a social impcat, the surplus we make will be reinvested into scaling the project to other communities. This will show to our customers that we care about creating change, which will strengthen emotional and long term relationships
Before anything can happen, the first thing we must do is to purchase land, hire contractors and build the processing facilities, as well as start the farm. One of the benefits of cricket farming is that it is very space efficient, which makes it a very good fit for places like Kajiado, Kenya where space may be limited. Crickets need very little space to breed and live – a wooden box that is “1.44 m3 can produce about 20-30 kg of crickets,” (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013).
To begin breeding, we need to buy the initial stock of crickets. With respect to feeding, unlike other livestock, crickets are able to “survive off of food/vegetable scraps” (Huis et al., 2013). A common choice of feed is rice hull. Crickets also need a place to lay their eggs which is typically just a tray with soil on top. After the eggs are laid they need to be incubated; typically this can be done in a bowl covered with rice hull or other materials to maintain a warm temperature. Once eggs hatch, the new crickets need a place to grow before they are large enough to live along the other crickets. This cycle typically last for around “40 days” (FOA, 2013) which is quite short in comparison to that of a cow or even chickens. One of the benefits of cricket farming is that they produce “a lot of fraz” also known as cricket waste (Baxter, 2018), which is a very good fertilizer that can be used in nutrient-deficient farms in the community.
Before crickets can be turned into cricket flour there are a few steps involved to process them. After being collected, the crickets need to be cleaned and washed several times to prevent contaminating the food. Next is drying and roasting the crickets which is then followed by milling them into a fine powder used for baking the bread and mixed into formula.
Additional key activities needed to deliver and sell the products to the customer include hiring and training locals to work in the facilities as well as to sell the product. It will also be crucial that we partner with local vendors in street markets to sell our product. Above all, the customers need to be made aware of our product before they can purchase them so marketing is also a key activity.
• World Vision to help with marketing as well as understanding the customer, and help with funding
• Local vendors to sell and distribute our product
• Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT Cricket Project) to help us train and find a supplier of the initial stock of crickets
• In the startup phase we can partner with one of the top 3 companies that produce baked goods in Kenya (Mini Bakeriers Ltd, Festive Bread Ltd or Akiyda 2000 Ltd) to help us produce our products
Primary customer research is necessary to determine how crickets are perceived in the community, how willing and able will customer be to pay for our products and what would be considered a fair price to charge, and what wage rate will be considered fair by the workers? We also need to determine where in the area would be an ideal location to build the facility, how to finance the business, the appropriate screening process to find local vendors, and a method to monitor and prevent price markups on our products. Finally we need to determine the legal and political barriers we might face.
Our revenues will be made through the recurring purchases of our products (Toddler cereal, bread and fertilizer)
Money will be used to operate as well as to expand the business, including:
• Capital to cover fixed cost such as buying the land, maintaining the facilities, boxes for the crickets to live in and equipment such as ovens, mills and mixers
• Capital to cover variable cost such as wages, feed for the crickets, other ingredients used in production, utilities and other cost to raise the crickets
Refer to attached figure: cash break-even analysis
The social impact of ProjectChirp is to provide a cheap and sustainable source of daily required protein and nutrients for the women and children of Kajiado. Recent statistics have shown that in Kenya almost “400,000 children and 37,160 lactating women need treatment for acute malnutrition” (World Vision, 2018). It has been shown that during the “first 1000 days (pregnancy to 2nd birthday)” of one’s life it is crucial that children receive the required nutrients or at risk from stunting which can lead to early death (UNICEF, 2018). This problem stems from a deeper issue of lack of access to processed nutritious foods. However, this issue has become more problematic in recent years due to droughts, which destroyed crops and escalated the issues of food security. Furthermore, ProjectChirps will help to provide more jobs to the people in the community which increases their productivity and will help them to get out of poverty. Additionally, since we will farm crickets, there will also be an abundance of fraz that can be used as a nutrient rich fertilizer.
Plumpy Nut is a French company that makes a nutrition paste out of peanuts. It is typically used by organizations such as WHO, UNICEF, WFP and the UN in emergency situations to help relieve acute malnutrition and weight gain (Nutriset, n.d.). This product has been quite successful and is supported by many trusted organizations. However, one thing that could make this product better is if it were produced locally to reduce transportation costs and support the local labour force; which is what ProjectChirp intends to do.
One company that “failed” in trying to farm insects for food consumption is a company in the Netherlands called Kreca. There was a period in the year “2000 where in almost half of their crickets died in the span of 8-12 hours” (Huis et al., 2013). Later on it was discovered that this was caused by diseases that spread amongst the crickets because of “poor sanitation.” This was a large problem for them because at the time they only farmed one species of crickets. This monoculture practice lacked genetic diversity so when diseases aroused, almost all of the stock was effected. Learning from this failure, ProjectChirp has decided to farm at least two species of crickets (Gryllus bimaculatus and Acheta domesticus) as a preventative measure in addition to having clean and safe farming practices.
The project has three types of intervention that will each use a different type of impact measure. To measure the impact of the jobs created by ProjectChirp we will measure the number of jobs created as well as the wages earned by the employees. To measure the impact of our food products we will measure and collect data on the weight gained by the children as well as the change in the ratio of stunted children. Finally, to measure the impact of the fertilizer, we will measure the increase in crop yield of the farms that use our fertilizer.
Strengths & Weaknesses
• A large support system from the faculty and students at the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation and Enactus Laurier
• Passion for social change
• Understanding of social enterprises and background in business
• As the sole person who created and developed the plan, I need more people to work with me directly and create a team
• Limited knowledge of policies and regulations in Kenya
• Language barrier and difficult to reach primary customer research and the business environment research
• Understanding of the true cost and financials of the project
• There are people who are willing and have money to buy our products
• The cost involved are correct and will remain stable
• The children and mothers will accept our product
• Vendors will want to sell our product
• The price of our products will be affordable
Most Significant Challenge
The most significant challenge this venture will face is to gain create awareness for our brand and products. Although Entomophagy is a commonly practiced by Kenyans and farming insects for human consumption is not uncommon, cricket based products are currently not sought out by our customer segment. It will be difficult to make the initial sales and we will be running a deficit for a while as the segment we are targeting does not have much money to spend, if any. Initialing the cycle will be difficult. Another challenge we might face when trying to scale this business model to other countries in the future is the societal acceptance of eating crickets, as not all countries are like Kenya where it’s culturally acceptable to practice Entomophagy.