Ecorich Solutions

Ecorich Solutions

Turning waste into food

Ecorich Solutions

African start-up Ecorich Solutions uses an innovative technology called “the Wastebot decomposer machine” to convert organic waste into organic fertilizer. The process involves the breakdown of organic waste using soil based microbial enzymes under a temperature regulated mechanism. Their goal is to minimise the environmental pollution caused by greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the decomposition of waste in landfill sites, and to support local farmers and women in the informal waste management sector. For these reasons, Ecorich Solutions has been chosen as one of the ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2023 finalists, and is featured as the ISC3 Start-up of the Month for March 2024.

Year of Foundation:


Addresses the following SDGs:

SDG1 (No poverty) SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (climate action), and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities)


Two african women dressed in Ecorich´s company shirts surrounded by palms and greenery, smiling into camera
Joyce Rugano (CEO, Founder & Managing director) and Ruth Wanjiru (field representative)
African woman standing in a green field holding an agricultural linen bag
Joyce Rugano with product

Passionate experts sharing a vision

Ecorich´s story started similar to how many start-ups find their way into existence: A group of knowledgeable and ambitious experts met at an event and were united by sharing ideas which were leading to the same goal – protecting our environment by means of sustainable waste management. The team members have extensive background in business and science research: Joyce Rugano is the CEO/Founder/ Managing director of Ecorich Solutions and holds a bachelor of arts degree in business management, Robinson Irekwa is the co-founder holding a master of science degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, heads the research and development docket. The team also includes: Faith Chepkoech, who heads the operations and administration department; Lucille Maxine heading the Supplies department; Lucy Mwai as head of marketing; and Lewis Kimathi leading the communication department.

The team identified one of the biggest challenges in waste management as the disposal of food waste in landfill, which produces methane, a major contributor to global warming. They also realised that recycling alone was not enough and that the valuable minerals in the waste should be returned to the soil to be used as organic fertilizer. Reducing this waste has always been a complex and costly process, so the team behind today's Ecorich Solutions came up with a viable solution that led to the creation of the start-up.

“With the Earth’s ever-growing population, we will have less land to farm, but more mouths to feed. If we don’t nourish our soil with proper nutrients, we run the risk of it becoming less productive in only a few decades”
, explains Joyce.

In the beginning, Ecorich financed their innovation through savings and support from family and friends, until they could finance their operations through grant funding and revenue generated from the sale of their organic fertilizer. The start-up started off with only 15 small scale farmers. So far, they have been able to reach 3,150 farmers out of which 95% have fully resorted to using their organic fertilizer. In 2022, Ecorich won the African Women in Agribusiness in Accra (Ghana), and was one of the 8 finalists of the ISC3 Innovation Challenge in Sustainable Chemistry and Agriculture in 2023, among others.

Easy and affordable food recycling solution for everyone

Ecorich offers high quality organic fertilizer produced by an innovative technology called “Wastebot decomposer machine”. In the food recycling process, heat resistant, nature-derived microbes break down the food waste under regulated temperature. Hereby the waste is processed in one of two ways: by aerobic or anaerobic digestion. All machines used allow for an odour- and pest-free recycling process.

The aerobic digestion consists of microbes breaking down the organic matter under heat and in presence of fresh air. One cycle is completed in as little as 24 hours and breaks down 95% of the waste input. The machine comes in different ranges of food waste capacity, catering to the size of the business it is used for. Another solution, which requires additional substrate, completes the cycle in just 14 hours. These products can be used in a variety of settings such as school cafeterias, food markets, small cafes or large resorts.

The anaerobic digestion works in an oxygen-free environment and produces methane, which is captured in a controlled containment designed with activated box, that absorbs the gas preventing it from being emitted to the atmosphere. These models are best suitable for bigger businesses, such as hotels and resorts, industrial kitchens, community centres, and so on.

And what makes this innovation unique in terms of sustainability?

Ecorich’s waste food processor “Wastebot” decomposes food waste into organic fertilizer reducing the number of dumpsites that causes numerous releases of toxic gases to the atmosphere. According to the World Health Organization 2023, methane, which is the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, a hazardous greenhouse gas, heavily promotes air pollution, exposure to which causes 6.7 million premature deaths every year. Up to now, the start-up has reduced urban waste by 40% by collecting kitchen waste from the households.

As the first African startup to convert organic waste into organic fertilizer within 24 hours using technology, Ecorich sells their organic fertilizer currently to mainly small-scale farmers at 70% cheaper price than synthetic fertilizers. As a result, the number of small-scale farmers who can now afford the fertiliser has risen from 15% to 60%, increasing their production and income by 32%. These farmers own or lease a 5 acre or less piece of land, which they use for cultivating crops, raising livestock, or a combination of both. Due to the limited land size, they often focus on high value and staple crops that are well suited to their local climate and soil conditions.

Furthermore, the start-up works closely with community members who collect the organic waste and dispose at their centres for recycling. To be more specific, Ecorich has set up such organic waste collection centres in informal urban settlements where they employ and partner with the community women and youth in the waste collection and recycling process. After the 24-hour conversion, the organic fertilizer is packaged into 25kgs and 50kgs bags sold at 13 and 25 dollars respectively. As raw material any kind of organic waste running from kitchen, market or farm waste can be used.

“Our goal is to make on-site composting easy for customers of all sizes, time efficient for staff and affordable for all”
, states Joyce.

A dedicated team visiting farmers directly known as “village champions” who act as intermediaries within rural communities, and farmer cooperatives and agrovets, also play a key role in delivering fertiliser and are important distribution channels. Ecorich also has carried out awareness campaigns and collaborated with local agricultural organizations, NGOs and government agencies to reach out to farmers promoting the benefits of their solutions. Furthermore, they have established partnerships with local educational institutions to offer internships and training programs.

Currently, the start-up is carrying out an impact assessment on their organic fertilizer effectiveness in boosting vegetable farming in Kiambu County in Kenya. Ecorich supplies the organic fertilizer to other Kenyan counties such as Nakuru, Nyandarua, and Machakos.

Next steps for Ecorich

For their one-year growth strategy the start-up states the following goals:

First, they strive to upgrade their “Wastebot” from electric power to solar power and increase the “Wastebot” capacity from 50kgs to 500kgs. Also, the construction of 4 more organic waste recycling centres and expansion of their waste collection from Nairobi to other cities in Kenya and East Africa should be initiated. The nutrient analysis dashboard and mobile phone application to advise on the organic fertilizer quality should be developed. The next focus will be on marketing their innovation and organic fertiliser to new markets. In addition, the start-up wants to involve more youth and women from the community in the organic waste management cycle to create jobs and improve livelihoods.

Ecorich Solutions, who joined the ISC3 Global Start-up Service in July 2023 as one of the ISC3 Innovation Challenge 2023 finalists, is actively contributing to SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (climate action), and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities).