Umuti’s paper bags are made from the trunks of banana and plantain trees, which are left behind in tremendous quantities after harvest, eliminating the need to harvest timber or other virgin materials.

Founded by four young entrepreneurs, who have all studied at the African Leadership University – a longstanding partner of BESTSELLER FOUNDATION – Umuti aims to create a quality paper bag that is 100 percent recyclable, chemical free, compostable and biodegradable.

BESTSELLER FOUNDATION’s initial investment will facilitate Umuti’s pilot phase, which aims to catapult their concept to scalable solution. Adding Umuti to its community of start-ups furthers BESTSELLER FOUNDATION’s commitment to the development of a cleaner, greener and healthier Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Umuti is a reflection of what we believe in at BESTSELLER FOUNDATION – a dedicated early-stage business that understands the threats to the environment and strives to respond with an innovative idea to create a greener future, while promoting the circular economy agenda. I see them going far, and I am glad we are part of this impact creation journey with them,” says Wassa Cissé, BESTSELLER FOUNDATION’s Rwanda-based Investment Analyst.

Umuti’s innovative approach has earned them a spot among the 15 international teams selected for the Greenpreneurs Program of the Global Green Growth Institute, giving them access to 12 weeks of entrepreneurship programming, including mentoring, training and support in refining their business plan.

“What drives us is that we envision protecting and sustaining our environment, while reaping value from farm waste and helping our customers be better stewards of the environment. It's about time we start carrying our basic needs in high-quality, stylish eco-friendly paper bags by considering the best ways to reduce deforestation, pollution and safeguard our environment. We believe working with BESTSELLER FOUNDATION will help us reach our goal of becoming the leading sustainable packaging producer in East Africa by 2026,” says Kevin Shema, CEO of Umuti Paper.