Image: OCA Analyst, Brian Lang’at (second from the right) with the Komaza team in Kilifi.
There is this huge disparity between the vibrant Kilifi town which is a well-known tourist location and the rural area around it. Poverty in rural areas really hits you, especially when you are used to city life, with people living in broken down mud houses, visibly malnourished children walking around, and families with no real livelihood. I think this is what led Tevis Howard to start Komaza in 2006 after studying Neuroscience at university. He wanted to help poor communities in rural Kenya earn a living from planting trees on their idle land starting with Kilifi. By 2018, Komaza had planted trees over 3000 hectares and mature trees were being bought and harvested returning income to the farmers and supplying sustainable wood to the market.
In 2019, Komaza was looking for growth capital and was compelled to reinforce its Corporate Finance team to research expansion into Central Kenya where there are many farmers with quality tree farms, and develop financial models to support this case for investors. Through OCA’s Arcadia business line, I was placed in Komaza’s Corporate Finance team for six months reporting to the Corporate Finance Director. Over that period, I conducted a feasibility study for Central Kenya looking at farmer profiles, land use profiles, and the marketability of microforestry in the region as the profile is so different from coastal Kenya. I also developed various investor documents including financial models that were used during negotiations with the top investment companies that were interested in Komaza, and created a base of research on carbon markets, an area they were thinking of venturing into.
Soon after I left, Komaza was able to close a Series B investment round and now hopes to benefit over 2 million farmers by 2030 across Africa with the investment funds. I’m really proud that the feasibility study that I developed continues to inform their expansion plans to date.
Brian Lang’at, OCA Analyst
To learn more about Arcadia, click here.