Kenyan company using insect larvae to make animal feed and fertiliser

Adan Mohammed

Ecodudu is a Kenyan company which manufactures organic fertiliser and animal feed from insect larvae. The business was started in 2018. Co-founder Adan Mohammed (28) answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

Ecodudu is a waste-to-value company that leverages the black soldier fly to produce bio fertiliser and insect protein for animal feed (mainly fish feed) manufacturers through a circular production model. We set out to provide sustainable and highly nutritious alternative protein throughout Africa, contributing to the betterment of animals and consequently healthier people.

2. How did you finance your startup?

I founded my first feed company, whilst working for Nyati Feeds Limited. Through selling the company in 2015, I was able to finance the initial R&D needed to start Ecodudu. We were then able to gain funding from the Kenya National Innovation Centre and BMCE Bank of Africa, as well as angel investors, which enabled us to build our facility and start our operation.

Mature larvae

3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?

Ecodudu has a clear growth plan for the coming years. With a $1 million investment, I would invest into a new rearing facility, including new machinery to automate and increase overall production. Furthermore, the investment would allow Ecodudu to continue its platform development, to build a fully digital supply chain and network.

4. What risks does your business face?

As we are growing our production capacity on a monthly basis, we need to make sure that we are able to ensure the highest level of quality, while being increasingly efficient. Losing ground in one of those two areas, is probably the biggest risk.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

Currently, Ecodudu makes use of its extensive network in the feed industry to market its products through word of mouth. In addition, as our product is still branded very new and unique in the market, we get a lot of referrals and it has been the most successful form of marketing.

The larvae are dried before being packaged as animal feed and fertiliser.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

The most exciting entrepreneurial moment for us was to sell our first batch of insect protein. Initially, we had a lot of questions and doubts from our clients about how insects could replace conventional protein sources in animal and fish feed. But once they tried the product for the first time, they continued to order more and more.

7. Tell us about your biggest mistake.

When I started Ecodudu, I focused too much on setting up the rearing facility. Thus, as we spent too much on capital expenditure, we initially had problems financing the daily operation. What I have learnt is that when you are managing your expenditures, you need to know exactly how long it takes to recoup the investment.

8. Identify an untapped business opportunity in Africa.

I believe that as the use of insect protein becomes more and more adopted in the industry, alternative plant protein will soon follow. As we face many challenges with the growing population in Africa, it becomes essential that we are able to create an effective and secure food supply chain. I believe not only insects but also alternative plant protein will play a big role in solving this problem.