FUNDED: MNB sells mushroom seed and substrate to local coffee growers in Rwanda

‘Moulin du Nil Blanc Ltd’ (MNB) is a business that was set up in Rwanda by Zilipa Nyirabyago. MNB grows and sells mushroom seed and substrate to local coffee growers so they can count on an income the whole year round and thus create financial independence. Zilipa Nyirabyago has lived in Belgium since 2002. She has worked in Rwanda and in Ivory Coast for multinationals (Coca Cola and Heineken) and has a great deal of technical and policy experience. MNB won the Sustainable Technology for Africa Award in Belgium in 2018.
Already collected € 30.000
Searched budget € 30.000
Project duration
2019 - 2022
textbook example of the circular economy in Rwanda

The business project

Coffee is an important agricultural product that is grown by local farmers. The areas under cultivation are small and there is only one harvest a year (from March until the end of April), so the growers are heavily dependent on the yield and on coffee prices. To be financially viable the whole year round they need to be able to generate extra income. This is made possible by cultivating and selling mushrooms, which can be grown regardless of climatic conditions. The business model is based on three pillars: 

  • The production of high-quality mushroom seedThe coffee growers receive financial assistance from a local savings bank (IFEZE), which awards them micro-loans to buy the mushroom seed and the substrate made from coffee pulp and other natural waste from maize or other vegetables•    
  • Setting up a local cooperative business, with MNB becoming a shareholder together with local agents and the local farmers. This business acts as a focal point for training the farmers and for selling the produce at a fair price.
  • MNB aims to include 400 to 500 farmers in this project within 3 years and to provide them with the opportunity to earn enough income for their families and to educate their children. At a later stage these farmers will also be given the opportunity to sell crops with a greater added value.

Why OVO believes in this project


Only a small investment is needed for the farmers to grow mushrooms. To buy seed and substrate they can turn to micro-finance. The growers are also helped to sell the crop so that they also get a fair price. What’s more, mushrooms are very nutritious. MNB ensures higher and above all stable incomes for the local farming community.

Investment sought


To make the start-up possible, Zilipa Nyirabyago will herself contribute €5,000 to the business. She is asking for a loan of €30,000, of which €18,000 has already been pledged by three OVO consultants. The OVO Acceleration Fund funded the  amount of €12,000 for NMB.



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