The Amanzi Project

The Amanzi Project: Teach a man to grow a fish and you can feed the whole world...

Baleni, South AfricaBaleni, South Africa
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
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.

The Amanzi Project wants to grow fish in a way that protects the natural ecology and improves the utilisation of water resources, all while increasing agricultural productivity and creating employment opportunities for rural farmers, including women.

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

What if we could feed Africa in an environmentally responsible and economically sustainable way?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Worldwide fish is rich food for poor people. In Sub-Saharan Africa, fish provides an estimated 22 percent of the region’s total protein intake. To be sure, fish is also an important source of nutrients including Omega 3 fatty acids, iron, calcium iodine, potassium, and several vitamins.With the worlds’ fastest growing population Sub-Saharan Africa faces a serious challenge in maintaining current per capita fish consumption.

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

The Amanzi Project will impart the skills and capital necessary for initialising modernised aquaculture in rural South Africa. The project will operate outside the conventions of global aquaculture, by focusing on growing an endemic species, the Mozambican Tilapia, in its native habitat. The project will proceed in three stages: Firstly, we will set up small-scale training ponds to transfer the requisite fish husbandry skills. Secondly, we will establish larger ponds utilising saline and fresh water from coastal sources. While the first two stages will utilise high quality male-only fry from a private hatchery in the Eastern Cape, the final stage will establish a hapa-based hatchery to produce suitable fry on site.
Impact: How does it Work

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

Nhlanhla is a member of the Baleni community, he has recently completed his high school education but remains unemployed. His father, who has AIDS, recently returned home from the mines as he is too weak to continue working. The entire family, totalling 10 people, are supported by his grandparents' state pension of US$ 260 per month. Desperate for opportunities, Nhlanhla is considering traveling 1000km north to look for work as a mine worker. The Amanzi Project offers Nhlanhla an alternative. By becoming a fish farmer he can provide his family with a quality source of protein, improving his father's health. Nhlanhla can also earn an annual income of more than US$ 3000 and no longer needs to leave the family and community that he loves.

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

The Baleni community has a Human Development Index of around 0.4, equivalent to that of Mali. It has hard to overstate the value of improving nutrition and creating employment opportunities in such a marginalised area. The projected proposes to create at least 15 sustainable jobs in the areas of fish rearing and hatching. The net nutritional effects of producing a minimum of 15 tonnes of fish annually are harder to quantify, but substantial nonetheless. Note that the figures listed above are conservative estimates, and assume low levels of productivity from the proposed ponds and hapas. Under ideal conditions both the level of employment and production of the project could easily be doubled.

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

Moving forward the project has the potential the establish a precedent for rural aquaculture in the Eastern Cape. This could lead to a replication of the project's methods in other locations, along with an increased focus on aquaculture as a method for improving rural livelihoods by the provincial government. Under such conditions, the project could easily produce 200 tonnes of fish annually, creating 200 or more jobs within a 5 -10 year period. A complementary strategy would be for successful hatchery technicians to produce more lucrative ornamental fish species.

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

Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggests that even a modestly successful small coastal fish farm will produce fish with a US$ 70 000 annual market value. Assuming no other sources of funding, this will allow the project to remain financially sustainable utilising a fish-for-fry arrangement, whereby a portion of each year's harvest is traded for technical assistance and more fry.

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

The World Fish Centre and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN are both addressing the problem of insufficient world fish supplies. Their focus is on expanding aquaculture production via the provision of technical and financial assistance to large scale projects, generally utilising GIFT strains of Nile Tilapia. Our solution differs in scope, location and species. We want to start small, as there is no history of aquaculture in the region. The use of Mozambican Tilapia is driven by its endemic nature and the associated lack of restrictions on its use for aquaculture in South Africa.

Founding Story

The idea for the Amanzi Project occurred during my time working as a volunteer mathematics tutor with the Igqangi Project in the rural Eastern Cape. At the time I was reading an article on the Blue Revolution in global aquaculture in the June 2014 edition of National Geographic. It occurred to me that fish farming may be a viable option for the communities in the area. After some research I discovered that while no rural aquaculture project had ever been attempted in the Eastern Cape, the area is part of the natural range of the Mozambican Tilapia, a species used in Asian aquaculture. The development of the idea proceeded from there as I gained interest and support from community members in the area and an African aquaculture specialist.


Our team consists of 7 full and part time members including a school headmaster, an aquaculture specialist, an architect, a rural education specialist, a development economist, a high school agricultural science teacher and an Ivy League graduate. Between us we have a combined total of 15 university degrees and more than 40 years experience farming in Africa. To meet our team visit us at:
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, EC, Baleni

Country where this project is creating social impact

, EC, Baleni

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

Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Businesses.


Improving Nutrition, Water Use, Sustainable Sourcing, Opportunities for Women, 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?

Our customers are the fish buying public. Our solution provides them with a quality source of fish at an affordable price without any guilt about the farming practices used in production. Recipients of our solution include all community members involved in the value chain of fish production. To them we offer a valuable source of income and nutrition which does not threaten the environment in which they live. We engage both in a way that builds trust in our goals and methods.

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

The prize money and publicity provided by the project will be a substantial aid in constructing our first training ponds, obtaining technical assistance and paying for the training and fry required the initiate the project. It will also allow us to complete the environmental impact assessment, required by South African environmental law, for an expansion of the project.

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

As founder of the project I bring my experience as a management consultant, development economist and student volunteer. This experience includes involvement in several initiatives aimed at improving financial and development outcomes for companies, governments and NGOs. Most valuable to the success of the Amanzi Project is an understanding of the constraints faced by, and cultural context of, developing countries.

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?