The Projects

Innovations Across the Agriculture Value Chain: An Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

Project Overview

Doreen Mashu drew on her own childhood in Zimbabwe and professional experience in West Africa to explore why so much of the African continent’s produce spoils or is wasted. Her goal: design a new venture to address the problem. Food and crop wastage is not unique to Africa, but the solutions that will work in Zimbabwe or Cote D’Ivoire need to be customized carefully to account for conditions on the ground and to also improve the conditions that have stymied others in the past. Foreseeing a coming boom in indigenously-produced consumer food products on the continent, Doreen is asking, what value chains, manufacturing models, and products might work best for a new business? How can traditional fruits, nuts, and vegetables, including from the smallest-scale household plots or unfarmed land, find their best use in local, nationally available, or exported food and cosmetics?

"For me it was MIT, but for anyone else it could be anything—it’s just a matter of figuring out what you have in your own ecosystem, and then using that to your advantage."
—Doreen Mashu, SFMBA ‘18

Having applied for a Legatum Fellowship before arriving on campus, Doreen used classes, networks, funding, and access to expert mentors and potential investors from the Legatum Center, the Sloan Fellows program, and across MIT to explore her ideas. She conducted research on campus and in the field over MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) with the aim of launching her new business to meet emerging needs and improve livelihoods, nutrition, and wealth creation in sub-Saharan Africa. Supply chain, manufacturing, product design, marketing, entrepreneurship, and financing all come into play.

Her studies here at MIT taught her to consider the challenges in managing quality and maximizing her enterprise’s ability to learn from its own experience.

Learn More About the Project from Doreen

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2017
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