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KOMAZA is a social enterprise that develops economic opportunities for smallholder farmers living in East Africa’s unfertile and drought-prone regions. It was founded in 2006 by Tevis Howard. KOMAZA is registered as an official non-governmental organization (NGO) in Kenya and a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in the United States. It is incorporated in the State of California.
KOMAZA was founded in 2006 by Tevis Howard while he was studying at Brown University. Between 2002 and 2005, Howard’s academic studies frequently brought him to the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Labs, a world-renowned medical research facility in Kilifi, Kenya, a small coastal town of 40,000 people.
As Howard spent more time in East Africa, he acquired a deep understanding of the social and economic problems facing this extremely impoverished part of the world. Upon realizing the remarkable potential and entrepreneurial spirit of the community, he launched KOMAZA and has since dedicated his efforts to growing and strengthening the organization.
KOMAZA's has a sustainable tree-farming project. The organization’s “microforestry” model is a combination of microfinance, sustainable forestry and conservation being implemented in Costal Kenya. Working through a village-based farmer extension network, KOMAZA identifies interested farmer groups under the advice and consent of community leadership and then provides them with appropriate agriculture inputs and tools on credit – such as improved seeds and fertilizer, on-farm training and support, and complete vertically integrated value chain services so that they can access markets and transform their previously unproductive land into valuable tree farms. Farmers can then reinvest this profit to start their own business, pay school fees for their children and receive improved healthcare.
KOMAZA structures its organization as a social business – recovering its costs and earning a small profit from each farmer, which is then reinvested in program expansion and holistic community development. According to KOMAZA, this allows the organization to become a "self-sustaining” and “self-scaling” partner for rural development. By the end of 2012, the organization plans to plant two million trees with 10,000 smallholder farmers.
At the end of 2010, KOMAZA had partnered with nearly 2,000 farm families to plant more than 275,000 fast-growing, drought-resistant trees in Kenya’s Ganze District. In 2008, KOMAZA and its founder Tevis Howard were awarded major grants from The Mulago Foundation and The Draper Richards Foundation and chosen to enter their highly selective portfolios of social enterprises. During the same year, Howard was awarded a Rainer Arnhold Fellowship, which provided a two-year stipend to pursue KOMAZA full-time. He has also been recognized as a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow. Tevis is featured on the Pop!Tech Website giving a talk on KOMAZA
- "Popcasts : Tevis Howard: Microforestry". PopTech. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
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- "Tevis Howard turns his passion from science to fighting poverty in Kenya through a self-started microforestry program". Abroadview.org. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- "Our Solution". KOMAZA. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- "KOMAZA". KOMAZA. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- "Accomplishments". KOMAZA. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- "Komaza (portfolio page)". Mulago Foundation. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
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- "Class of 2008". PopTech. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- "Poor farmers plant trees to grow wealth - Provincial". nation.co.ke. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- Howard, Tevis. "The Promise of Microforestry | Solutions". Thesolutionsjournal.com. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- "Who We Fund (click KOMAZA for more details)". Jasmine Social Investments. Retrieved 2012-08-14.