Young entrepreneur Rexon participated in the first cycle of the Sustainable Alternative Livelihoods for Youth in Borneo (SALY-B) programme last year. Across the course of a fortnight training in natural resource management and an 8 week enterprise training programme, he conceptualised and developed a sustainable and eco-friendly business plan. His business plan and pitch were successful and he was awarded with seed funding to kick start his venture. Rexon launched his organic pig farming business in January 2018 and his business is going from strength to strength.
Rexon was not sure whether to sign up to the programme at first but explains, “I thought I’ll just try… I ended up learning about the ecosystem, safety, biodiversity and management. The programme taught me good lessons, awareness and gave me inspiration.”
Rexon tells us, “I have always had many business ideas but I did not have a plan for a green business before starting on the programme.” Prior to SALY-B, Rexon was planning to work for a timber company with his brother-in-law. The job was going to involve making one area of forest into land for palm oil. Rexon began thinking of ideas for a green business based on his increased awareness of ecology and biodiversity whilst on the programme. “There is a high demand for pork in my village. People hunt wild boar or farm pigs in a way that is bad for the environment. That’s how I got the idea for my organic pig farm.”
Rexon incorporated alternative methods of pig farming into his business plan to make his business eco-friendly, sustainable and unique compared to his competitors. He explains, “I use natural and unprocessed foods to feed the pigs. This includes food such as tapioca, banana and all other fruits. When the food has been excreted and cooled down I add natural fertiliser and turn it into compost which is then used to grow the food for the pigs. It is a sustainable cycle.” Rexon is also planning a tiered filtration pond system to further filter the waste which he can then grow vegetables in. He is proud that his farm is 100% organic.
“Usually pig farmers use food waste from the house which already has a lot of chemicals in it. The benefits of using fresh natural ingredients rather than processed food is better pig growth and a reduced smell which in turn reduces the number of insects around the pigs.”
“When I got back to my village and told them all about my idea, the villagers complained.” The villagers raised issues to Rexon including the smell of farming the pigs. “I explained to them my ideas of how I would farm them and how I would address their concerns. Since doing this and them seeing the results they have started to accept it and are now okay with it.”
Rexon explains the programme has enabled him to be the first in his village to start an enterprise, “Everyone is watching to see if I am successful before they do one of their own.”
Rexon is continuing to aim high and develop his business. His overarching goal is “to become a very successful green entrepreneur who provides a very good quality of sustainable meat in both Borneo and further afield.” Furthermore Rexon explains, “I hope people around the world can learn and gain a greater understanding about the concept of green businesses, ecosystems and biodiversity.” It is his hope to continue growing the business to meet the local demand for pork and reduce the hunting pressures on the wild boar population.
“The Raleigh Borneo project was very supportive and positive for me. I think giving future generations awareness about protecting biodiversity and the ecosystem is helpful because this is our land and we need to protect it.”
The Sustainable Alternative Livelihoods for Youth in Borneo programme is a joint initiative by Raleigh Borneo and Land, Empowerment, Animals, People (LEAP). It has received funding from the United States’ Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs and from the Legacy of Sarah Young.
The second cycle of Raleigh Borneo’s sustainable enterprise programme is reaching completion over the next weeks. The participants are in the final stages of pitching and finalising their business plans. Keep an eye on the website for more information about current participants on the programme.
Raleigh Borneo’s Virtual Enterprise Fair will launch on the 23rd March. This platform will showcase the achievements of all the participants on the programme. Keep an eye on the website and social media for more information.
Photography by Daniel Buttifant.
Interview by Communications Officer, Rebecca Raab.