Kisoa Farms: Creating Jobs in Madagascar
PROVO, Utah – Dec 06, 2017 – After five missionaries from the Madagascar Antananarivo Mission returned home, they felt compelled to give back to the people they had lived and worked with for two years. The Malagasy people they met were brilliant and resourceful, but many lacked employment and nutrition.
“What can we do to solve more than one problem?” they asked themselves. This is where Kisoa Farms was born.
Kisoa’s mission is to create sustainable pig farms in Madagascar to provide jobs for locals and affordable protein to malnourished families.
“Lots of people provide services through nonprofits and humanitarian aid, but we like the idea of developing individuals through a business. These individuals then become leaders and gain economic opportunities that allow them to help other people,” says Jason West, a physiology and developmental biology senior and co-founder of Kisoa Farms.
While the economic benefits are significant, Ballard Center Associate Managing Director and Romney Institute of Public Management professor Aaron Miller says the nutritional benefits are also vital.
“If Kisoa Farms is good at establishing pig farming there, it can have a generational change,” Miller says. “With childhood nutrition, for example, low protein sources can have consequences for decades in a person’s life. An adequate diet is fundamental for childhood development. I think you’re going to see more vibrant households because of improving income.”
West explained that one pig can be raised from birth for $60–$70 and then subsequently sold on the market for $300. Kisoa Farms started with twelve piglets in June 2016 and now has over 225 pigs at the organization’s main farm. While they cannot spend time in Madagascar during the school year, Kisoa Farms team rely on local farmers to learn and follow best practices for raising these pigs so they can get the highest market price.
“We have been working with major pig farmers here in the area and learning incredible things about husbandry and feeding that ensure the pigs grow bigger, better, faster, and stronger,” says Greg Cloward, a returned senior missionary from the Antananarivo mission and co-founder of Kisoa Farms.
The Kisoa Farms team—made up of Cloward, West, Hayden Roney, Josh Steele, and Taylor Moulton—made it to Best Venture status this year at the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance’s Social Venture Academy. Miller said it takes a great amount of work and validation to achieve Best Venture, the highest ranking within the Social Venture Academy.
“What it means is that they have convinced a group of successful, intelligent judges with experience in social entrepreneurship that they have built a venture with a lot of promise,” Miller says. “They have created a strong management team and have a well-validated project or service.”
West said one of the proudest moments of the team’s entire journey was receiving product validation by raising their original twelve pigs and selling them at market right before pitching for Best Venture. This showed the viability of their venture to the judges.
The team also improved the project when Social Venture Academy judges asked how team members knew the pork was getting to the people who needed it most. The team re-evaluated its impact model and decided to sell their pork to local butchers who would in turn sell it to people who would benefit the most, rather than selling to restaurants that only cater to middle- and upper-class customers.
West says the biggest lesson he has learned through starting Kisoa Farms is to surround himself with and listen to people with more experience than he has. It is through building relationships such as these that Kisoa Farms has become a success.
“There are people who are willing and excited to help. They are willing to give of their time and knowledge for ventures like this. It’s been eye-opening to see how willing people are to help,” Roney says.
Kisoa Farms plans to expand its current farms to hold 400 pigs each so it can sell thirty pigs per month and expand to other areas in Madagascar.
To learn more about creating an organization that improves the world, please visit socialventure.byu.edu.
Media Contact: Alicia Gettys (801) 422-9009
Writer: Michaela Proctor