Ecopia co-organizes Go Green Fair: Interview with Ecopia Founder Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie
CAPITAL Interview with the founder and CEO of ecopia Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus- Matschie
Can you tell us about yourself and ecopia ? What it stands for and how you started it?
My name is Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus- Matschie. I have been living in Europe for 20 years and have moved back to Ethiopia in 2007 to establish ecopia which is a private limited holding company in the organic goods sector, developing organic food products, cosmetics and natural medicine. ecopia stands for Ecological Products of Ethiopia.
Can you tell us about the major accomplishments of ecopia so far?
As a responsible company, ecopia has social objectives of profitability. It aims to contribute to poverty eradication in rural Ethiopia through the processing and marketing of organic and natural products which create value for both producers at the base of the economic pyramid and consumers in Ethiopia and the world. Over 90% of our food and beverages are processed by Ethiopian organic farmers. To date we have trained over 400 farmers to enable them to process their own products with our company. We have been able to design, process and market 54 products of organic farmers by integrating simple techniques of food processing, management and sales services. This has really impacted on local economies, and made traditional Ecological farming methods more profitable. Ecopia has also established a traceability system to that their customers can verify the quality of their products and trace their components right back to the farmers.
And your focus in the coming year…
Another upcoming innovation by ecopia is the building of a mobile-based web processing system that will link two million Ethiopian farmers to the company. ecopia is also going to launch a consulting and investment arm to the company, working in business and product development, sales, marketing, distribution and technical assistance.
What is your role in the coming GO GREEN Fair and conference and how does Ecological Products of ecopia PLC plan to participate?
The social company has been very active in developing the GO-GREEN Africa Fair and has a large presence at the event with workshops, lectures and demonstrations of their work. We considered the Fair to be a real stepping stone to help Ethiopia to develop in an environmentally sustainable manner. There is much potential for green and socially responsible business in Ethiopia and other African nations, and a definite need for the economy more generally to adapt to a changing climate and rising fuel prices. In the organic food sector, the worldwide market is growing year-on-year and we are helping our network of 11,000 farmers to access this market through working with them to produce high-end products. At present only part of the potential national and international market is being accessed by Ethiopian producers, and this is something that ecopia is working hard to change. But we also need to think about ways to utilize technology to widen our horizons. This is why we consider the Green Fair as a vital knowledge –sharing tool.
Do you have plans to introduce your ideas to other African countries? Will it contribute to the strategy being laid to face the climate crisis?
Ecopia products can be found in supermarkets and hotels across the country and will soon be expanding into the international market. The prospective benefits for Ethiopian development are huge. The global organic food market grew by 12.4% in 2010 to reach a value of $59,341.2 million. In 2015 the global organic food market is forecast to have a value of $88,069.3 million; an increase of 48.4 % since 2010. Demand for organic produce within Ethiopia has grown steadily in recent years and is expected to continue. To fully access Ethiopia’s potential market share in organic produce, there is no doubt that organic certification is needed.