Q & A with Esnath Divasoni, Founder of Jumping Protein

Esnath Divasoni, the youngest of seven siblings, is from a rural town in East Zimbabwe. Her parents grow maize, beans, and tobacco on farmland they were given in the 2001 land repatriation. She is the first in her family to attend university and study abroad. Since a young age, Esnath was motivated to make education a priority in her life. She was able to attend high school after receiving a scholarship from Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED). We first met her at the 2019 Mastercard Foundation Baobab Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, where she pitched her venture, Jumping Protein.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Esnath Divasoni. I’m almost 32, and I’m married with one child. I’m from Zimbabwe, and I recently graduated from Earth University.

I was born in a rural community where education for girls and women is not prioritized. However, I decided to break barriers and shift the paradigm by becoming the first person in my village to leave my family (husband and son) to go and study abroad.

What words would people use to describe you?

Visionary and hardworking.

What is the challenge your venture seeks to address?

My venture, Jumping Protein, seeks to address malnutrition among children and toddlers in rural communities by providing a source of protein that is affordable. We train community members on how to cultivate crickets, mealworms, and black soldier flies using locally available materials for both human consumption and animal feed.

Have you been personally affected by this issue? If so, how?

Yes, it pains me to be surrounded by children with stunted growth and poor health due to their diet. Having enough nutrition-rich food should be for everyone.

How is your venture addressing these challenges?

My venture is teaching community-members to farm and process insects. This will ensure there is a constant supply of protein-dense foods available to marginalized people.

What does your venture hope to achieve?

We hope to achieve sustainable production and low to nonexistent cases of malnutrition and hunger in my community.

What inspired you to start your venture?

The need to have enough nutritious food. When I visited a drought-stricken community, I noticed they were feeding toddlers mopane worms—a source of protein that is difficult to chew. Mopane worms are commonly eaten as a relish and they are hard to chew since the most common way of preparing them is frying or drying. The solution to this is to grind these worms and add them to baby cereal.

What excites you about the Resolution Fellowship?

Having mentors and Guides to show me the light. I mostly enjoy being oriented and supported by my Guides. Indeed, they are Guides in every sense of the word. The seed funding also helped me start up the project.

Esnath winning the Resolution Felowship in Kigali, Rwanda

How will the Fellowship help you achieve your goals?

The Fellowship provides a connection to resources, both monetary and human capital, which will enable the success of my venture and the attainment of my goals.

What advice would you give other college students who are looking to start their first social venture?

Be passionate about what you want to do. Be stubborn enough to not listen to what the haters say. Give your best shot and remember it’s not about writing a good proposal, but about doing what’s best for your venture.

What do you love most about your home community?

The acceptance of new and functional ideas is exciting. I love the fact that my community requires evidence that a certain prototype or idea really works before they trust you enough to accept it. This is one aspect that can help you develop more impactful solutions for your community.

What role do young leaders play in the world today?

Young leaders are the light-bearers, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. There is a strong need to actually use the information and skills young leaders have to create hubs that can benefit future generations.

Why is it important for young people to focus on social impact?

As a product of someone who decided to focus on social impact, I believe I owe it to the world to do the same.

What are your goals for the future?

To create an empire of insect farming and food processing which helps my community reduce food waste and spoilage for the rural farmer.