Scaling the Solution: How do you intend to scale your activities over the next two years (e.g., reach new markets, diversify solutions, etc.)? What will make this possible?
We’ve made connections with international grain traders who currently move pigeonpea from Africa to India, and are interested in buying from Guatemala as the harvest time aligns with current shortage. What they want is quantity, at least 10 containers, to make it economically feasible for them. In order to reach that threshold we’re increasing production through interim markets including food and animal feed manufacturers, local markets, and pushing home consumption. We’re also working on providing higher yielding and better-adapted seed. The prize money will help us further this work towards the export market, collaborating with global experts to investigate other options such as selling processed pigeonpea to US and Canadian importers.
Financial Sustainability: What is your business model to ensure financial sustainability?
In Tanzania we asked the leading government scientists what they did to bring 280,000 families into growing pigeonpea. They said, “Once we had the right growing techniques and a stable market, the rest took care of itself.” Farmers learned from successful neighbors. Exporters brought seeds to new villages. Our strategy is to lay the right foundation and let the market take care of the rest.
Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.
I helped found Semilla Nueva in 2009. As Executive Director I have been a part of the inaugural Ignite Good class, an Ashoka Emerging Innovator, and a speaker and policy consultant at several conferences in Latin America. My values and dedication have earned mentors and partners from some of the most respected agricultural development organizations including CIMMYT and ICRISAT, whom have all played key roles in this project.