Creating income for smallholder farmers by transforming agricultural waste into a healthy sweetener for Mexican consumers
Xilinat is a social enterprise that buys agricultural waste from smallholder farmers to transform it into xylitol, a low-calory natural sweetener that looks and tastes like sugar and benefits people’s health. The reuse of maize cobs contributes to a better income for the farmers and their families, while creating a healthier natural environment by avoiding agricultural waste burning and the subsequent soil and air pollution.
The company’s founder was inspired by his own family story, where his father was diagnosed with diabetes and he suddenly realised it was difficult to find healthy, low-sugar and good-tasting food products in Mexican stores. This lack of alternative sweeteners has contributed to the rapidly growing numbers of Mexicans struggling with diabetes and obesity. Diabetes is the second most common cause of death in the country.
Having created a patented process for the transformation of agricultural waste into xylitol, Xilinat currently works with over a dozen farmer families and has benefited over 3,000 people since its foundation. The Xilinat waste transformation process addresses another problem in the domestic market: the high cost of traditionally produced xylitol, which has failed to make the product popular among consumers. Selling to individual consumers and businesses, the company has managed to establish a fermentation process generating xylitol that is 40% more economical.
Currently, Xilinat is in the process of increasing their production capacity, incorporating more smallholder families and serving more customers. The Mexico accelerator will support the company in this effort. With several new prospects already interested in their product, the Xilinat team will work on solidifying their business-to-business channels.
The peer-to-peer learning and mentoring by IKEA co-workers as well as the access to finance granted through the programme will help the Xilinat team to be financially ready to receive investment. It will also allow them to develop a system to measure the impacts of their socially and environmentally sustainable business model in the communities they work with.
Learn more about Xilinat with this video, originally published as an Instagram story on the New Ventures Instagram channel as part of its 'One Day With...' video series.