Aqua Zai : "Solving Global Hunger from A to Z"

Aqua Zai : "Solving Global Hunger from A to Z"

Little Rock, EgyptLittle Rock, United States
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The mission of Aqua Zai is to provide food security to the 3rd world by creating solutions for the scarce availability, poor quality, and fluctuating prices of nutritious food. Our model will use proven agricultural and technological strategies to operate a profitable and scalable business.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

we could save 16,000 dying children every day?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Nearly one billion people in the world are dying of starvation, and their main source of food--agriculture--is in dire need of improvement. Farmers are using outdated farming techniques allowing them to produce a small portion of their potential output. They plant by hand using few - if any - tools due to the lack of access to current farming technology. Additionally, droughts can ruin crops causing shortages of food throughout the country.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our reasoning is simple. Agrarian communities are the source of food for any society on any continent. To truly “solve” global hunger in a crisis so severe, an entity must go directly to the source of the problem which is the subpar, subsistence-level farming communities. Aqua Zai learned of a well-researched planting technique invented in Burkina Faso, West Africa called Zai Holes which rehabilitates soil and preserves water and soil nutrients while preventing erosion. Zai Holes yield an increase in crops of 200-500% depending on which crop is grown, and they can be dug in any climate on any farming soil. We consulted with John Dorsch to create a tool to make the otherwise labor-intensive Zai Hole digging process simpler.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Abaynesh is a wife and the mother of four children. Like the other women of her community, Abyanesh is responsible for feeding her family. She works on a smallholder farm toiling in the intense heat. Unfortunately for Abaynesh, the unpredictable rain pattern has made farming very difficult for her this year, and she is barely able to raise enough maize (a main crop in Ethiopia) to feed her family. In fact, Abaynesh, and her family eat rations and have lost a significant amount of body mass. Abaynesh joined a farmers' coop for help. How fortunate she was to find out that this coop had partnered with Aqua Zai and learned how to dig zai holes, a planting method to conserve water in any climate. She also received a free Zai Bug to reduce labor!

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The African agricultural market is growing. Companies such as John Deere and Agco are investing millions in ICT (information and communication technology) and farming equipment (FE) to improve communication between farmers and markets. In Ethiopia, we found that agriculture accounts for 45% of the country’s GDP, 85% of employment, and 89% of exports. Ethiopians dispose of 2ha per household and hardly have access to technological means to increase their income. Irrigation is mentioned one aid to such problems. However, large companies such as the aforementioned have not reached small farmers.
About You
Aqua Zai: Solving Global Hunger from A to Z
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name

Aqua Zai: Solving Global Hunger from A to Z

Organization Country

, AR, Little Rock, Pulaski County

Country where this project is creating social impact

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Year founded


Impact: What is the impact of the work to date?

Approximately 125 words left (750 characters).

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The most significant challenge to this project will be working with the various governments of countries who have "red tape" and bureaucratic processes for companies who want to operate on their soil. We have the international law firm, Zell & Co. as our legal counsel with offices in the Middle East, New York, and Washington DC to guide us through these processes.

Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

Aqua Zai revolutionize the agricultural world by teaching 3rd world farmers about the PROVEN zai planting technique. We will work with farmers coops to ensure that small holder and commercial farms can attain our Zai Bug tool so that the work is less labor-intensive and therefore made doable for the first time. It's unfortunate that the sole reason why zai planting isn't used more widely is because the farmers don't have the proper tools to implement it. Women, who make up the majority of 3rd world country farming, will use our Zai Hoppers to distribute the food grown on our Zai Farms as their own micro-franchised businesses. The Date CoLa partnership is key. DateBev products will be created using dates from our date farms for great profit.

Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We will increase farming efficiency both by leasing large areas of land (which the government leases for USD 1 to 2 / m2, depending on the region) and helping farmers with modest land properties with technology. During the start up phase (12-18 months), the Zai-Bugs will be lent/leased to the farmers. From using the technology, their yields will increase by no less than 500%-600%, from which they can pay us with a percentage of crops (5% - 10%)

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

The five team members, Julian, Beza, Paul, Simon, and I (Princella) met on campus at the Lauder School of Government. I became passionate about finding a sustainable way to solve the world's problems i.e. a profitable way to make a difference that did not rely on charity. Once it was decided upon to tackle the issue of agricultural struggles as a way to actually solve and not put a band-aid on global hunger, I KNEW that these four people HAD to be involved with me. The two "aha" moments, were 1.) when my friends in Niger told me of the effectiveness of zai farming but that NO ONE WAS USING IT SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE LABOR INTENSITY! 2.) when Julian told me about his background in farming. Upon 1st appearance, you'd never guess he's a farmer!

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

As mentioned earlier, Date Cola is partnering with us to represent their beverage and food products made from dates found in abundance in the Middle East. We want to utilize the unused excess dates in the Middle East to make nutritious food for sale as well as teach women how to use the dates to feed their families rather than cheap street food. In locations like the Philippines, undeveloped land will be used for Zai farming to plant more dates.

Women Powering Work
Is your project targeted at solving any of the following challenges?

Building self-confidence and networks through role models, mentors, public campaigns, and more

Does your project utilize any of the strategies below?

Customizing technology such as mobile phones, websites, or telecommuting tools to enable greater economic participation