Exclusive Interview: Cynthia Omutoniwabo’s Journey: Loopa’s Rise from Personal Challenges to Pioneering Sustainable Agriculture in Africa

Estimated read time 5 min read

Embark on a personal and entrepreneurial odyssey with Cynthia Omutoniwabo as she shares her inspiring journey—from facing unforeseen challenges in 2019 to founding Loopa. This article offers a unique perspective on her commitment, challenges, and the mission to revolutionize organic waste management and sustainable farming practices in Africa.

Tell us more about you, how your Journey Started, and the company, and how its journey started.
In 2019, my personal world was upended by unforeseen challenges. As I navigated the
complexities of raising a young child and a newborn, I stood at a life-altering juncture. It was
in the midst of these trials that I pledged—if I were to prevail—I would dedicate myself to
founding a business that resonated with my passions or addressed a fundamental need.
This commitment led me to Jasiri, a program dedicated to cultivating high-impact
entrepreneurship in Africa, where I connected with my co-founders. It was in May 2023, under
the Jasiri program’s tutelage, that we established Loopa. The program steered us from the
germination of our idea to the actual establishment of our business, blending our individual
areas of expertise. Dennis brought his extensive chemistry knowledge as our Chemist and
Product Development Lead, while Ghislain’s expertise in circular economics and a deep
understanding of business dynamics were integral as our Business Lead. And I, Cynthia As the
Operations Lead and tech-savvy team member, where I play a crucial role in optimizing
Loopa’s vermiculture process.Together, we created Loopa with the vision of transforming
Africa’s challenges into opportunities through high-impact entrepreneurship.

What impact does the company hope to make in Africa?
Loopa is committed to spearheading a transformation in agricultural practices across Africa
by addressing the critical issue of organic waste accumulation from urban centers, industrial
zones, and residences. Traditional disposal methods like landfilling and burning are not only
environmentally detrimental but also pose significant health risks and contribute to
greenhouse gas emissions.
Moreover, the overreliance on synthetic fertilizers has led to a worrying decline in soil quality
and fertility, adversely impacting crop production and thus, food security.
Loopa’s mission is to enhance agricultural sustainability by integrating cutting-edge IoT
technology into vermicomposting and composting processes. This innovative approach
transforms food scraps and agricultural residues into affordable organic fertilizers. By doing
so, Loopa is not just managing waste effectively but also rejuvenating soil health, increasing
agricultural yields, and fostering a sustainable ecological future.

What challenges are being faced by the company at the moment.
While we’ve carefully planned our approach, we inevitably encountered some hurdles. The
primary issue was waste sorting at its origin, in our case, the market. Secondly, ensuring the
presence of the right personnel there was crucial, and thirdly, the lack of adequate machinery
further complicated matters. Currently, our primary focus is on gathering comprehensive data
to refine and streamline our processes, adapting as needed to meet the evolving demands of
the market and farmers.
Additionally, scaling up production while maintaining cost-effectiveness poses another
challenge. Given that our main clientele consists of small-scale farmers aiming to enhance
their yields, it’s essential for us to produce in bulk without escalating costs.

How is the company unique from competition?
We have developed a revolutionary system that integrates vermiculture with IoT technology,
as well as an innovative Biochar formulation. Our smart composting system uses earthworms
to accelerate the decomposition of organic waste, turning it into high-quality, nutrient-rich
organic fertilizer. The process is monitored and optimized by IoT technology, ensuring
maximum efficiency and minimizing manual intervention.
The Biochar component in our formulation sequesters carbon in the soil, helping to mitigate
climate change. It also enhances the soil’s water-holding capacity, reduces soil acidity, and
improves overall soil health. This, in turn, boosts crop productivity, offering a sustainable
alternative to synthetic fertilizers.

Is the company looking to expand, if so where and how?

Currently, Loopa has established its operations in Nyamata, located in Rwanda’s Eastern
Province. Here, we’ve initiated a collaboration with the local market to source our raw
materials and have successfully produced 2 tonnes of organic fertilizer.
Looking ahead, our strategy is to scale up our production capabilities to meet the needs of the
87.3% of Rwandan smallholder farmers who rely on organic fertilizer. Furthermore, we aspire
to extend our reach to farmers throughout Rwanda and East Africa who are predominantly
dependent on synthetic fertilizers.

Our expansion model is centered around a franchise system designed to position our
production sites in proximity to both the source of organic waste and the farming
communities. This approach is aligned with Loopa’s commitment to impacting over 200,000
farmers by 2030 through franchising. Our ultimate goal is to create a circular food economy
where nutrients are efficiently recycled, the reliance on inorganic fertilizers is diminished, and
overall ecosystem health is enhanced. By executing this strategy, we aim to empower the
farming community, elevate the quality of their produce, and actively contribute to
environmental conservation.

What does the company need right now to achieve its goals?
To achieve its objectives, Loopa is prioritizing partnerships with government agencies for
support and integration into agricultural initiatives, collaboration with agricultural leaders
for market insight and farmer outreach, and advancements in mechanization for efficient
production. Alongside these partnerships, securing funding is vital, with a focus on attracting
investments from entities interested in sustainability and impact. These combined efforts are
aimed at propelling Loopa towards its goal of fostering a sustainable agricultural future in
East Africa.

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