Founded in 2006, KOMAZA is Tevis Howard’s attempt to revive otherwise desolate farmland into the foundations of a forestry industry in arid Africa. The rural populations of developing countries make up the poorest of the poor, with many subsistence farmers unable to provide enough food for their families, let alone earn an income due to infertile plots of land. Africa is also a multi-billion dollar market for wood products with a dwindling wood supply, largely due to a heavy reliance on charcoal as an energy source. As a result, with infertile land that is unable to provide either food or income, these farmers resort to the profits earned from cutting down and selling indigenous trees on their land to meet the huge demand for wood. While surviving on less than $1 a day, the short-term economic gains for these farmers outweigh the long-term environmental impact, and in the last 50 years, Kenya has seen its forest cover go from 10% to less than 1.7%. Despite having land that fails to provide a traditional harvest, KOMAZA found that where crops may not grow, trees do.

Komaza 1

Photo courtesy of  http://www.komaza.org/media/photos.php


Meaning, “to promote development and encourage growth”, in Kiswahili, KOMAZA is creating a model where their supply is easing a demand for wood products without negative impacts to the environment. KOMAZA provides the initial financing needed by farmers to invest in tools, seeds and fertilizers. After brief training, the farmers are then able turn their land into a tree farm, growing drought tolerant trees and plants such as eucalyptus and cowpeas that are durable, hardy, and require minimal future maintenance. Each farmer plants a half acre of 250 trees on their otherwise unused land and after about 6 years the plots are ready to harvest. With their current model, a 1$ investment per tree results in a $30 sale once the tree is ready to be farmed. For KOMAZA to recover their costs, they purchase the trees back from the farmers before processing the wood into it’s final form and selling the harvest in high profit markets, while sharing the earnings with the farmers and helping them invest the money where they need it most.

Komaza 2

Photo courtesy of  http://www.komaza.org/media/photos.php


Currently operating solely in the semi-arid Ganze District of Kenya, KOMAZA has already helped thousands of farmers plant over 4,600 tree farms and more than 1.1 million trees. The farmers who apply to be a part of KOMAZA look forward to the prospect of profits that go towards costs such as helping their children attend school, improving their living conditions and serve as a supplementary income to other business ventures. KOMAZA has found a sustainable business solution to help to break the cycle of poverty that is experienced in rural Africa.

Komaza 3

Photo courtesy of  http://www.komaza.org/media/photos.php

Designed with a sound value model that can easily be adapted to a massive scale and rapid growth, KOMAZA’s vision is to expand beyond Kenya to all semi-arid regions of Africa, with a realistic goal of planting 50 billion trees by 2020. KOMAZA sees a future where they not only change the lives of thousands of subsistence farmers, but also the entire environmental landscape of East Africa.

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Phone: (403) 800-6608