During the 2019 Business of Conservation Conference, we held a business pitch competition called the Leopard’s Cove where a selection of innovative conservation entrepreneurs stepped up to pitch their cutting edge scalable ideas to a panel of investors for the chance to secure the funding they need to launch and/or scale their enterprise.

Umuti, an ALU student start-up was one of the organisations that pitched their innovative idea and on the panel that day was Mr. Jannek Hagen of the BESTSELLER FOUNDATION. Continuing its commitment to waste-to-value innovation, BESTSELLER FOUNDATION offered an investment opportunity to the young start-up.

We are excited to see that through the Business of Conservation Conference, we have been able to connect this innovative business to the needed funding. BESTSELLER FOUNDATION has invested in Umuti, which is working on an eco-friendly paper bag linked to banana harvests.

Umuti’s paper bags are made from the trunks of banana and plantain trees, which are left behind in tremendous quantities after harvest, eliminating the need to harvest timber or other virgin materials.

Founded by four young entrepreneurs, who are all studying at the African Leadership University – Umuti aims to create a quality paper bag that is 100 percent recyclable, chemical-free, compostable and biodegradable.

BESTSELLER FOUNDATION’s initial investment will facilitate Umuti’s pilot phase, which aims to catapult their concept to a scalable solution. Adding Umuti to its community of start-ups furthers BESTSELLER FOUNDATION’s commitment to the development of a cleaner, greener and healthier Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Umuti is a reflection of what the BESTSELLER FOUNDATION believes in – a dedicated early-stage business that understands the threats to the environment and strives to respond with an innovative idea to create a greener future while promoting the circular economy agenda. I see them going far, and I am glad we are part of this impact creation journey with them,” says Wassa Cissé, BESTSELLER FOUNDATION’s Rwanda-based Investment Analyst.

Umuti’s innovative approach has earned them a spot among the 15 international teams selected for the Greenpreneurs Program of the Global Green Growth Institute, giving them access to 12 weeks of entrepreneurship programming, including mentoring, training and support in refining their business plan.

“What drives us is that we envision protecting and sustaining our environment while reaping value from farm waste and helping our customers be better stewards of the environment. It’s about time we start carrying our basic needs in high-quality, stylish eco-friendly paper bags by considering the best ways to reduce deforestation, pollution and safeguard our environment. We believe working with BESTSELLER FOUNDATION will help us reach our goal of becoming the leading sustainable packaging producer in East Africa by 2026,” says Kevin Shema, CEO of Umuti Paper.


The original version of this news article was published on BESTSELLER FOUNDATION website


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