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The mission of the Your Mark on the World Center is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.

Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

SunCulture Named a Finalist in Gratitude Awards Competition; Winners to Be Chosen at SOCAP

SunCulture, led by Samir Ibrahim, has been named as one of nine finalists in the 2014 Gratitude Awards from the Gratitude Network to be awarded at SOCAP this coming week in San Francisco. The finalists were chosen from among 32 semi-finalists, who were chosen from among nearly 150 applicants. To learn more about the awards and SOCAP, see our story in Forbes. You can read all our coverage of the Gratitude Awards, including profiles of all nine finalists here.

Four winners will be announced on Thursday, September 4, 2014. We obtained a copy of the application from SunCulture so we could share it with you below:

Please describe your venture:

SunCulture designs and sells solar-powered irrigation systems and agricultural extension services that make it cheaper and easier for farmers in Kenya to grow high-value fresh fruits and vegetables.

What is the problem are you solving and why is this important?

Kenya has 5.4 million hectares of arable land. 83% of this arable land is unsuitable for rain fed agriculture, thus requiring irrigation systems, yet a mere 4% is under irrigation. Diesel and treadle pumps are presently available in the market but the effectiveness of these technologies is constrained by high input costs and labor inefficiencies. SunCulture combats these problems, creating a more efficient and cost effective way to irrigate.

What is your solution and business model?

SunCulture’s AgroSolar Irrigation Kit combines cost-effective solar water pumping technology with high-efficiency drip irrigation. SunCulture is also the only “one-stop shop” for smallholder commercial farmers in Kenya, as it is the only company that provides a solar water pumping solution, an entire drip irrigation kit, agronomy services, educational training, access to capital, and access to markets in rural Kenya. SunCulture sells the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit, as well as technician surveys, components, and agronomic services directly to farmers. SunCulture also signed a partnership agreement with Equity Bank, Kenya’s largest retail bank. Since May 2014, Equity Bank finances and promote the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit.

What is unique patentable, or otherwise not seen elsewhere about your venture?

SunCulture has developed a novel and unique product by combining drip irrigation with a renewable energy source, which simplifies farming and increases crop yields up to 300%. SunCulture is also the only “one-stop shop” for smallholder commercial farmers in Kenya, as it is the only company that provides a solar water pumping solution, an entire drip irrigation kit, agronomy services, educational training, access to capital, and access to markets in rural Kenya. Its approach focuses on quality of both product and services. Thus, the advantages of SunCulture lie in the comprehensiveness with which it addresses food security and sustainability.

Please describe who your customers are and how you know they want your product?

SunCulture’s target market is the one million farmers in Kenya who have more than five acres of land. We have sold its products and services to over 150 of these farmers. However, we realize realize that there is a need for efficient technology at the Base of the Pyramid and have recently expanded our product line to address this market. We now offer products for farmers with as little as 1/32nd of an acre, at the most affordable price point in Kenya.

In which country does the target population your company serves reside?

Kenya

Please comment on the strength of the venture’s leadership:

Samir Ibrahim studied finance and international business at NYU, focusing on economic development. He worked in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Financial Services, Structured Products, and Real Estate Group. Charles Nichols studied mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He previously worked at IPP Solar, a commercial solar power developer that develops, finances, owns and operates large (500kW+) commercial solar photovoltaic systems.

Please describe the impact your company will have or is having, the way that you measure your impact, and the scale you plan to reach?

Farmers currently using the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit are (annually): saving 350,838,000 liters of water, generating 36,500 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy. reducing 96,543 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions, growing 2,162,700 kilograms of fresh fruits and vegetables, and realizing $671,590 in savings and increased yields. We look to increase this by 260,000x in the next five years.

How is your organization innovative? Have collaborations with others enabled that innovation?

SunCulture is also the only “one-stop shop” for smallholder commercial farmers in Kenya, as it is the only company that provides a solar water pumping solution, an entire drip irrigation kit, agronomy services, educational training, access to capital, and access to markets in rural Kenya. SunCulture sells the AgroSolar Irrigation Kit, as well as technician surveys, components, and agronomic services directly to farmers. We also offer all of these products and services at the the most affordable price in the region.

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