Tevis Howard founded Komaza in 2006, to develop sustainable economic enviorment for poor farmers in Eastern African countries. KOMAZA is a social enterprise, committed to ending rural poverty, by providing priority to those who live around infertile land and areas where droughts are recurrent. KOMAZA provides resources, knowledge, and expertise to farmers, allowing them to yield crops from those infertile lands, helping boost household wealth and income.
Jeffrey Sachs, a renowned economist used all his expertise to work on the Millennium Village Project in Africa, which helped improve lives of numerous families but ultimately fell short of its ambitious goals. Tevis saw that the Millennium Village Project failed because it lacked a sustainable business model. Tevis then worked on the plan to plant trees and founded Komaza, which means to encourage growth. A graduate in neuroscience from Brown University, Tevis’ idea involved planting trees that can be easily grown in drought prone and infertile areas, giving farmers access to the cash economy. Not only the idea helps generate income, it also helps put an end to deforestation. These trees provide marketable commodities and are not cut for firewood purposes. It is estimated that more than 1.7 percent of total forest areas has been lost to ensuring fire is provided to natives for cooking purposes.
KOMAZA’s business model includes recruiting individuals to plant trees. They are trained to manage seed, plant trees and use fertilizers. As trees take the time to grow, KOMAZA ensures a credit facility that lasts from 6 to 10 years. Komaza then helps those farmers connect to the marketplace where charcoal, poles and posts, lumber and biomass can be sold. Komaza keeps a small portion of profits to train others and invest in resources to manage operations, including payment of salaries to those who manage the farmers. Farmers have seen a threefold increase in their household incomes. It has eventually helped increase the quality of life, fight environmental concerns, and ensure farmers can pay health and education for their families. More than 1.5 million trees have been planted while the aim is to reach 20 million.