How Kenyan entrepreneur is using insects to bring change

This article was first published at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

 

A visit to InsectiPpro will see you meet the founder and CEO of the company, Talash Huijbers, a young Kenyan agripreneur who is passionate about using her business to bring a transformative change to the world and who proofs that agriculture is cool and lucrative especially for the youth and women.

Based in the central part of Kenya at the periphery of Nairobi, InsectiPro is a company that was founded in November 2018; It is in the business of growing insects. The company grows Black Soldier Flies that are used as the protein component in animal feeds production.

It also aims to provide a cheaper and more practical solution to the food crisis by elevating human nutrition through crickets. In the process of producing the insects, the company upcycles 30 metric tonnes of waste.

When you visit the company website, you are met by the outstanding words “Meet the Chain-gers”, meaning the change makers. Talash leads a young ambitious team that is thriving by injecting change into the animal feeds and human food value chains using innovation“You will hardly find us using traditional methods of farming that are very tedious and less fruitful,” Talash explains. “We use modern technology to come up with ways of making farming sustainable and profitable for ourselves and for farmers.”

Talash and her team are working with other partners within the industry to coalesce and act on knowledge to bring much-needed change more urgently and create more space for innovation thus driving forward sustainability. She believes in specialization of labour and works closely with partners as IDH to transform food systems.

“We cannot do this alone, because each associate comes in with different innovations and ideas that are important to us. With IDH, an organization that leverages the power of markets to create better jobs, better income, better environments and gender equity for all, we have increased our knowledge about working with farmers through farmer schools. We also got our first grant from IDH, and it is a great thing to have such a partner who is not thinking about aid but putting trade first and looking at how it can improve the livelihoods of people,” she explains.

Talash believes that people ought to be the change that they want to see, and if this change cannot begin at a personal level, then one should not expect any change to happen. She believes in making the world a better place through food security and addressing some of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Part of the change that we lead in is the use of sustainable inputs like waste products and the insects for the feeds translates to sustainable output,” Talash explains. “We are at the forefront of contributing to the achievement of SDGs two, nine, 12 and 17 on zero hunger, industry and innovation, responsible production and consumption and building strategic partnerships for the global goals respectively.”

She believes that her biggest innovation is believing that people should be open minded and should not be afraid of experimenting new ideas. “People should be ready to think of ways they can make change and add some innovation into it,” she explains.

Sometimes we have very bad days and we are inclined at seeing the world in black and white, but that should not dissuade anyone from achieving their business goals. Remember there is always a person who sees the positive side of what you are doing, just like IDH believed in me and has been supporting me. So, keep going,” she concludes.

As a parting shot, Talash invites entrepreneurs to, just as she and IDH are doing, put people, planet as well as profits at the heart of their trade. She admits that she cannot promise that it will always be a simple and smooth journey, but she assures that while it may not seem to be easy at the beginning, the end goal will be worth the effort.

   Also listen to the podcast where Solomon Irungu from the IDH Kenya office had a conversation with Talash and she explains how she sees the world in color, not in black and white.