Acacias for all

Acacias for all: The green shield

Bir Salah, Hencha, TunisiaBir Salah, Hencha, Tunisia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Sarah is changing the agricultural sector in the Arab Maghreb sub-region through introducing a new holistic farming approach to fight desertification. She creates a movement of change through which farmers adopt new and sustainable farming techniques and organize themselves into cooperatives.

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

farmers could have access to knowledge and ressources to adapt to climate change in order to get a sustainable living?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The agricultural sector accounts for 11% of Arab Maghreb sub-region, it employs 23% of the population. But this traditional agriculture is not adapted to the new climate (semi-aride to aride) and is the largest consumer of water in the region, as the annual freshwater withdrawals in agriculture represents 76% of total freshwater withdrawal. Water scarcity has reached a critical point in the region, and severe drought is expected in the future.

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

Sarah’s idea involves introducing farmers to sustainable farming practices through training and education that shifts their attitudes towards their land; complimentary to the latter, Sarah offers the farming sector new opportunities via alternative crops, mainly Acacias and Moringa seeds, via seed nurseries. Sarah introduced Acacias trees for their positive environmental and economic impact in terms of revitalizing the land, creating a green belt to prevent desertification and consuming much less water than traditionally cultivated crops of olives and almonds. Acacias trees additionally produce Arabic gum and Moringa oil which in turn provides economic return when sold. Sarah couples the introduction of new crops with empirical researches.
Impact: How does it Work

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

Hadj Ramadan is an old farmer in Tunisia. He owns olive and almond trees but he has seen his revenues decreasing since 2004 because of lack of rain and water scarcity. The semi-aride climate doesn't fit anymore with his crops and his familly is facing for the first time of its history poverty. There is no industries in the village, neither around and unemployement touch at an endemic level the rural population. Hadj Ramadan have no idea how he will feed his familly. He take part to our training on sustainable farming and get technics and new crops to plant into his farm. Thanks to it, he can grow plants with less water and get financial incomes after 6 monthes of work and adopt ecological technics good for him and the planet.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In 2012 we planted 1500 trees. In 2013 we planted 5000 trees. We offered trainings to 20 farmers so far in permaculture, water keeping. We aim at planting 10 000 trees by the end of 2014 and train 25 farmers. We want to create 2 new seeds nurseries by the next 2 year coming, producing in each one 100 000 trees - means we will produce 300 000 trees each year and teach 300 farmers in 3 governorates each year.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In the short and medium term plan, Sarah is planning to open new seed nurseries, empower all Tunisian farmers to plant 2,934,000 Acacias trees to cover all the Tunisian arable spaces which constitute 17.4% of the Tunisian land, empowering 1000 farmers/year. Sarah plans through organizing farmers into cooperatives, to secure a 4,500 $ salary per famer per year to alleviate farmers rural poverty and contribute to Tunisia’s economy. In the longer term, Sarah plans to spread geographically to Morocco and Algeria, idea, impacting 10 million farmers and working through 100,000 cooperatives.

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

We are an hybrid structure. Our seeds nurseries are financed by farmers who buy our trees and by carbon credit compensation reward. Our trainings for farmers are financed by philantropy, government, UNEP and Adaptation fund for climate change.

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

In Tunisia, there is program of reforestation launched by the government 40 years ago. However, this program is not adapted anymore as the climate became semi-aride to aride. The Observatory for Sahel and Sahara is working only on seek and development and we already contacted them to work together on researches, especially how our program increase the life quality of beneficiaries.

Founding Story

I got this idea in 2006, international year of deserts and desertification, talking with my grand-father about lack of water and rains and its effect on his revenues as a farmer. At that time, I was just 18 and the political situation was not encouraging any social entrepreneurial activity. After the 2011 Revolution, I got the strengh and opportunity to reload that idea, in an instable country trying to build his own modele of democracy. In summer 2011, I discovered the augmentation of pauverty in my village (Bir Salah), we didn't get rain from 2004 and farmers were exhausted ! Indignited and encouraged by friends, I loaded a crowfunding campaign in the beginning of 2012 and we raised 3000€ to start the project planting 1500 trees !


Khalil Sghaier is a farmer and he is working with me at the grass root level talking with farmers and planting the trees. He is the director of The green shield initiative in Tunisia.
About You
Acacias for all
About You
First Name

Sarah Mag

Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name

Acacias for all

How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, SF, Bir Salah, Hencha

Country where this project is creating social impact

, SF, Bir Salah, Hencha

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Friends and family, Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Businesses, Regional government, National government, Customers.


Water Use, Greenhouse Gases, Sustainable Sourcing, Smallholder Farmers.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

My customers are farmers living in aride to semi-aride areas of Arab Maghreb sub-region. They value the idea because climate change is increasing poverty by reducing financial incomes from farming. Farmers cannot adapt because they do not have the knowledges neither the crops that fit with the new climate, they are still planting traditionnal crops like olive or almond, but those trees need water, and water is now missing. We realise trainings of farmers and chose "ambassadors".

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

The prize will help me to scale up creating 2 new seeds nurseries in Tunisia, planting 200 000 more trees and training 200 more people each year in new areas facing climate change.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

I have won an Ashoka Youth venture prize in 2008 for a similar project. It helped me to design my business model and how to build sustainable social ventures. Thanks to the online training I got, I created an incubator for social and environnemental projects in Sorbonne University in Paris. During my studies, I did a 6 monthes internship as an entrepreneur to develop a start-up on how to mesure hapiness in companies.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?


Will you require a visa to enter the UK?

Are you are a current Unilever employee?