October 8, 2021
A view of the Sanergy's factory in Nairobi
"KuzaPro" insect feed (dried BSF larva)
On Oct. 8, JICA made an investment of $2.5 million in Sanergy, Inc., a US company which promotes an innovative circular-economy approach in the developing world, including Nairobi, Kenya. Sanergy collects human waste from sanitary toilets located in slum areas and other organic waste around the city, and transforms the waste into insect feed, organic fertilizer, and biofuel in its factory, using the Black Soldier Flies (BSF).
Kenya’s capital and largest city Nairobi had a population of 3.04 million in 2009, which is expected to reach 5.94 million by 2030. As the population increases, the waste volume of the city is likely to go from 1,848 tons per day in 2009 to 3,990 tons per day in 2030. However, about half of Nairobi’s waste is dumped illegally, and the collected waste of 1.8 million m3 is brought into waste disposal sites that have a capacity for processing only 0.5 million m3.
In addition, the Kenya sewer system is connected to only around 12% of properties, and human waste often seeps away around dwellings, so there is reason for concern over the effect this has on residents’ water, hygiene, and health, especially in the slums where low-income families live.
Kenya’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries is a major industry making up about 30% of the GDP and about 40% of employment. There are limited feed and fertilizer resources, and dependence on expensive imported products is a burden on small scale farmers, impeding the expansion of farming production.
By 2050, the world population growth led by Africa is expected to reach 9 billion people. The production of food needs to be doubled and securing supplies of protein in particular has become urgent*1. In order to expand production of the present important sources of protein such as livestock and fish farming, an increase in feed production is needed, however the present staples such as soy and fish meal face problems with a stable supply quantity and price, as well as with overfishing. Thus, insect feed is drawing attention as an alternative protein source that can be mass-produced. In this area, there is progress in using and researching BSF that lives all over the world and can be reared on organic wastes. It is anticipated that the world market for BSF will increase at a yearly rate of 34.7% between 2020 and 2030 and that by 2030 it will reach $3.4 billion*2.
Sanergy, which has pioneered an innovative circular economy business, contributes to solving a number of social problems such as waste processing, public hygiene, farm productivity, and increasing food supplies. Supported with funding from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USDFC), Sanergy has built the largest insect feed factory in East Africa, that started up in 2021. JICA has a long history of helping waste management and agricultural development in Kenya and will leverage its experience to assist in the company’s factory operations and business development. The problems of waste management and farming productivity are not limited to Kenya but are also present in many African countries, and Sanergy is preparing to expand its business to other countries starting in East Africa. JICA will leverage its network to solve these social problems not only in Kenya but also in other African countries.
At this funding round, JICA is co-investing with private sector investors such as an impact investing fund managed by AXA IM Alts, a global leader in alternative investments with c. €163 billion of assets under management3. Novastar Ventures which operates a venture capital (VC) fund manager with more than $200 million assets under management in Africa, Finnfund which is a Finnish development financial institution, and Kepple Africa Ventures which is a Japanese VC directed toward Africa are existing investors of Sanergy. JICA will further cooperate with various investors in both the public and private sectors by assisting enterprises aiming to solve social problems in developing regions using innovative business models.
*1 FAO "Edible Insects" (2013)
*2 Research and Markets "Black Soldier Fly Market by Product" (2021)
*3 AXA IM data (unaudited). All figures as of 30 June 2021.