#TechThursday: Komaza’s revolutionary ‘wood ideas’ just got a boost

COVID-19 has changed the way we operate – personally and professionally. When it all started, we thought we were going to dip farther than imagined. But creative minds redirected their thinking towards utilising opportunities therein, and now, we have the ‘new normal’.

The phrase – ‘new normal’ – spreads far across all aspects of our lives. I mean, people across the world no longer depend on luxury to live through every other day; the indispensability of social activities has become somewhat like a myth; more companies now operate virtually, etc. And, you cannot deny that ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. One of such is Komaza.

Komaza’s goal, as a forestry business, is to get small-scale farmers out of poverty; and ‘scale this impact as widely as possible’.

Now, the Kenya-based forestry startup has raised $28 million to revolutionise Africa’s wood industry. The plan was to secure a $33 Series B equity round.

The Series A funding round was co-led by Novastar LPs AXA Investment Managers and the Dutch Development Bank FMO.Mirovaalso participated through its Land Degradation Neutrality Fund.

Tevis Howard founded Komaza with a vision to become Africa’s largest forestry company. The forestry startup partners with farmers to establish a sustainable supply chain of wood. It pays 25,000 farmers to raise tiny plots of trees for wood. The micro-forestry model is such that farmers get a steady and reliable source of income while the investors purchase wood products at an affordable price range.

Komaza’s business model has doubled the number of commercial trees in Kenya. It has planted over 6 million trees since its inception, and Kenya is now one of the top commercial tree planters in Africa.

When compared to traditional plantations, Komaza uses satellite data and Artificial Intelligence to map the tree growth rate and uses a mobile app to track the progress of farmers. Its model represents a shift from costly plantations and represents an 80% cost disruption.

It previously received a $200 funding round from Conservation International. Komaza plans to finance the planting of 1 billion trees by 2030.

With entrepreneurial roots in San Francisco, California and operational headquarters in Kilifi, Kenya, the company has already ‘planted 2 million trees with over 6,000 farmers, making them Kenya’s largest commercial tree planter. With a solid proof-of-concept and over 100 full-time employees, they are currently scaling both our staff and operations at a rapid pace.’

Komaza is developing an innovative “micro-forestry” model with the goal of becoming Africa’s largest forestry company. Farmers contribute land and labour, and are paid a fair price for harvested trees.

Komaza provides training, planting inputs, maintenance support, harvesting services, and a guaranteed market into the wood processing and sales operations. By leveraging farmer land and labour, Komaza can access effectively limitless land and plant trees for far less than big plantations – a powerful disruption to the traditional forestry business model.

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