Developing Seaweed Farm as a Service (SFaaS) – Providing seaweed farmers access to the latest farming technology and high-margin markets through a Seaweed Farm as a Service (SFaaS) model
Project Lead: Sayari Ventures
Supporting Partners: AFO, Lamu Environment Foundation, Faza Community, Kipungani Communitty, Pwani University, KMFRI, Pula Advisors, Flex Sea
Support: Received mentoring and training from the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC) which is financially supported by the Swiss Re Foundation, the UK’s Blue Planet Fund, and the United States Department of State.
Sayari Ventures aims to rent farming equipment and supplies under a Seaweed Farm as a Service (SfaaS) model, which offers maintenance and repair services, and provides training to seaweed farmers for a fixed period. Sayari will guarantee the purchase of the seaweed produced, which creates a reliable source of income for the farmers, most of whom are women and young people in East African coastal communities.
Shallow seaweed farming (0.5 – 1m depth) is a widespread practice in East Africa, but it comes with challenges such as low yields, susceptibility to diseases, and land use conflicts . Although farming in deeper waters or offshore can lead to better seaweed yields, it requires technical inputs, maintenance and is often too capital intensive for many coastal farmers to manage.
Seaweed cultivation has the potential to build resilience in climate vulnerable coastal communities by improving livelihoods, capturing CO2, reducing ocean acidification, and becoming a source of revenue. In order to overcome financial barriers and tap into this market, Sayari Ventures is offering farming equipment, training, maintenance, and repairs as a service to seaweed farmers. This offer is called “Seaweed Farm-as-a-Service”. Later, Sayari buys the seaweed produce from the farmers with a guaranteed minimum market-based purchase price. Additionally, farmers have the opportunity to earn more revenue through a bonus based on quality and quantity of the harvest. Later on, Sayari will additionally offer a “Rent to own” service and provide cash advances for harvest in order for farmers to acquire their own farms.
Scalability and Next Steps
Under the ORIC23 mentorship process, Sayari Ventures is currently transitioning from the conceptual phase to a first phase involving two pilots. These will take place in two communities in Lamu, Kenya together with Aqua Farms Organisation (a previous ORIC winner) as an implementation partner to establish the farms and develop the contract design (Minimal Viable Product). Other outcomes will be a better understanding of the different community needs and building their business model. Later on, Sayari Ventures aims to grow its network and test the product and market fit by providing “Seaweed Farm-as-a-service” to other groups in Kilifi and Lamu County.
“At the moment with climate change and rising water temperatures, current seaweed farms are failing. So, we need to push them deeper into the temperate water – and that costs money. Boats, anchors, anything that the local communities don’t have. It becomes a finance gap that needs to be solved.” – Patrik Huber, Founder of Sayari Ventures