ICOSEED Enterprises

Turning banana stems leftover from harvesting into fabrics
2017 SAG-SEED Awards; SWITCH-Africa Green
Waste Management

Experiencing rising market prices for products from sisal in Kenya, ICOSEED searched for an alternative and realised the potential of fibre made from banana stems. The enterprise buys banana stems, a by-product of harvesting, from farmers, processes it into balls of fibre and uses them to make marketable products.

The products - purses, table mats and other accessories – target middle-class women, including tourists. Slurry from fibre extraction is given back to farmers to make manure or use it for biogas. 

Eco-Inclusive Impacts
ICOSEED generates over 100 job opportunities along the value chain for all age groups. As agronomy training increased yields by 18%, more than 400 farmers benefit from additional income from selling their banana stems.
  • Reducing crime among youth by offering job opportunities in transportation and fibre extraction.
  • Strengthening the banana farmer groups with training in agronomy, increasing yields by 18%.
  • Providing an alternative source of income for farmers; so far 400 farmers benefit every year.
  • Producing environmentally friendly accessories made from 85% decomposable material.
  • Reducing carbon emissions by promoting the use of slurry for biogas digesters and manure.
  • Decreasing the use of pesticides on farms by removing banana stems that breed plant diseases.
  • Stimulating economy through income creation along the value chain; so far more than 100 jobs have training in transportation and extraction of fibres, twining and colouring and accessory-making.
  • Introducing a new fabric-making technology into the Kenyan market.


ICOSEED turns banana stems leftover from harvesting into fibre that can be used to make fabrics for bags, purses or table mats. The enterprise creates alternative income opportunities for farmers in the production of fibre and in the sewing of products.

ICOSEED (Integrated Community Organization for Sustainable Empowerment and Education for Development) initiated the banana fibre extraction and runs the production and distribution of products.

Kenya National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND) provides financial support for production needs and enhances business upscaling through technical and business skills support.

Banana Growers Association of Kirinyaga (BGA-K) organises the farmers for raw material supply and gathers sites for the extraction of fibre.