Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, December 9, 2013

Spotlight on Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe (BIZ)

Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe (BIZ) is a non-profit innovation hub, driving research and facilitating knowledge-sharing around existing and potential commercial applications for indigenous underutilised plants. They work in collaboration with a wide range of different actors, including private companies, other research organisations, governmental, non-governmental and international organisations, and individual researchers and entrepreneurs.

Their goal is simple.
  • There are a large number of locally-available plant species that could be used by small-scale farmers, especially in the drier parts of Zimbabwe. 
  • The purpose is to find them, study them and develop them into marketable products, thus transforming them from potential revenue sources into actual revenue sources. 
  • Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe (BIZ) don’t get hung up on theory. They want to see farmers generating real cash from these underutilised plants. 
Gus Le Breton
Gus Le Breton
Gus Le Breton runs the innovation hub incubating new business opportunities in Zimbabwe around underutilised indigenous plant species (Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe), and acts as a business advisor to a number of SMEs in this sector.

He has a 20 plus year track record in ethical, biodiversity-friendly natural products-related businesses across Southern Africa. Much of his business energy is devoted to developing new value chains from underutilised plants, and he currently owns and manages a natural cosmetics company, a baobab processing company and an early-stage herbal tea business.

In 2001, Gus was the founding CEO of the natural products trade association PhytoTrade Africa. Through them, he was exposed to underutilised plant value chains across Africa involving tens of thousands of rural African producers. He later became President of the Board of the Union for Ethical BioTrade (a post he held until recently) and is closely engaged in international processes around Access and Benefit Sharing and the Nagoya Protocol. Gus has Masters degrees from the universities of Cambridge in the UK and Yale in the USA.

Dr Jojo Baidu-Forson, Director of Bioversity International 
Regional office for Sub-saharan Africa with 
Dr R.E.M. Entsua-Mensah from CSIR, Ghana. 

Photo: E.Hermanowicz/Bioversity

3rd International Neglected and Underutilised Species Conference Accra, Ghana, from 25th – 27th September 2013.
  1. Theme 1: Resilience of agricultural and livelihood systems
  2. Theme 2: Upgrading value chains of neglected and underutilized species
  3. Theme 3: Creating an enabling policy environment

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