GRO Greenhouses

Improving Food Systems & Livelihoods

GRO produces affordable greenhouses from locally sourced materials to combat food insecurity in developing communities around the world.

Use Case

For an example of the user experience of our target customer, consider Lupita, a smallholder farmer living in Xai Xai, Mozambique. She attends a GRO information session hosted by our marketing agent and HESE Fellow, Jerrel. Once Lupita decides to purchase a greenhouse, Jerrel goes to her farm with a carpenter and construction materials. Lupita’s greenhouse is constructed in 2 days’ time. On the final day of construction, Jerrel and 2 extension agents head to Lupita’s farm. One explains how to use the greenhouse and that he will return every 2 weeks for maintenance and market linkage support. The other provides basic nutrition information of healthy foods that can be grown in her new greenhouse.

Potential

GRO Greenhouses will revolutionize the agricultural landscape for smallholder farmers in communities around the world. GRO is an affordable and efficient alternative to open-air farming, allowing farmers and families to have access to nutritious produce and an income-generating activity year-round. With the added benefit of being effective in arid and semi-arid environments as well as temperate climates, GRO greenhouses will combat food insecurity in various regions of the world. The greenhouses will be able to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, helping communities combat malnutrition. Every greenhouse built by GRO improves food systems and livelihoods in communities around the world.

Business Case

Our market penetration customer segment will be agro-entrepreneurs and ex-patriots who have the money to buy our greenhouses via direct-asset sale and inject capital into our venture.Our market expansion strategy includes targeting women’s cooperatives and smallholder farmers, who will buy our greenhouses on a cost-recovery basis. They will pay a percentage of the cost of the greenhouse back per growing cycle.

Objectives:

  1. Fueled by our USAID grant, GRO Greenhouses will build 150 greenhouses, ultimately impacting over 6,000 people over the next 3 years.
  2. Our ultimate metric is the number of farmers who pay us back. This means that they are selling adequate produce using our greenhouses.
  3. The more affordable greenhouses there are in developing communities, the more high-quality produce that is available.

Team GRO Greenhouses

State College, United States

  • Business / Social Enterprise
  • Agricultural Production / Productivity
  • Africa

Our Team

Coffee, Computers, and Blogs are all we need! / Published October 16, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Coffee, Computers, and Blogs are all we need!

Design Thinking Coaching / Published October 16, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Design Thinking Coaching

Erin and Richard were a huge help to the team today. We received great feedback on our newly revised design statement. The goal is to focus more on the imagined end user, getting creative with name, age, country, and other specifics. Although an income generating activity is needed, it would be best to rephrase along the lines of "farmers need to generate income." GRO is an established venture, so we have several insights about agriculture efficiency that apply to specific countries in Africa (Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone) - something that we did not highlight. This was only referenced generally.

Additionally, the team had questions revolving around several other badges involving prototyping and logo designing. Even though we have a solid prototype being sold, both Erin and Richard were helpful to point out that reverse engineering this could produce great insights into potential modifications that may be needed for different contexts in the future. This will be great to keep new and old members of the team current on GRO and the ventures progress. Our logo has been designed and approved, however, the team is currently working with Penn State graphic design students who have new ideas. GRO will definitely try to document this collaboration and share some sweet pictures.

Time to Brainstorm / Published October 16, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Time to Brainstorm

The team is back in action after a hiatus of travel. Today we want to focus on redesigning our design statement to be less of a mission and more descriptive of the user and the user's needs. So far, we have come up with: GRO Greenhouses need to maximize agriculture efficiency in the developing world where small holder farmers need an incoming generating activity and access to better more nutritious produce.

What do you think?

Insights + Insights + Insights / Published October 8, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Insights + Insights + Insights

Our business model canvas helped us visualize the partnerships we will need to form on the ground in Mozambique. We realized that our market penetration strategy will require use to start with agro-entrepreneurs and ex-pats vs. small holder farmers. We plan to sell our greenhouses via direct asset-sale to agro-entrepreneurs and ex-pats so we can recover the capital needed to sell to small holder farmers on a cost-recovery basis. Finally, the team decided that it is crucial to develop standardized, highly visual materials appropriate for the context, which will ensure that the greenhouse is constructed the same way time and time again.

Global Foodies / Published October 8, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Global Foodies

The GRO Greenhouses team has learned three interesting facts relating to global food issues and our venture. According to the World Food Programme, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of hunger. One in four people are undernourished. Poor nutrition causes nearly half of the deaths in children under five. And one out of six children in developing countries is under weight. One of GRO Greenhouses long term goals is to improve maternal and infant nutrition conditions. We hope to do so by making micronutrient rich produce more available at market.

Our Mission

GRO Greenhouses is the flagship venture of Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program. HESE is an interdisciplinary academic program in which students work across fields during the academic school year to design and implement practical technology solutions in developing regions. Each summer, HESE students participate in travel to countries of interest where in addition to implementing their ventures on the ground, they participate in IRB approved research in hopes of advancing scholarship the the fields related to their ventures such as food value chains and community health workers.

Our Background

GRO is a venture that has been creating sustainable impact for over 5 years now. We have licensed our technology to two for-profit companies, Mavuuno and The Greenhouse Center, in Kenya and Cameroon respectively. Last year, we partnered with World Hope International (WHI) to implement our technology in Sierra Leone, expanding our venture’s reach from East to West Africa. Because of the strength of our partnership with WHl, who has an established presence in Mozambique, we’ve identified this Feed-the-Future Country as the next place we create impact with our affordable greenhouses.

Coffee, Computers, and Blogs are all we need! / Published October 16, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Coffee, Computers, and Blogs are all we need!

Design Thinking Coaching / Published October 16, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Design Thinking Coaching

Erin and Richard were a huge help to the team today. We received great feedback on our newly revised design statement. The goal is to focus more on the imagined end user, getting creative with name, age, country, and other specifics. Although an income generating activity is needed, it would be best to rephrase along the lines of "farmers need to generate income." GRO is an established venture, so we have several insights about agriculture efficiency that apply to specific countries in Africa (Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone) - something that we did not highlight. This was only referenced generally.

Additionally, the team had questions revolving around several other badges involving prototyping and logo designing. Even though we have a solid prototype being sold, both Erin and Richard were helpful to point out that reverse engineering this could produce great insights into potential modifications that may be needed for different contexts in the future. This will be great to keep new and old members of the team current on GRO and the ventures progress. Our logo has been designed and approved, however, the team is currently working with Penn State graphic design students who have new ideas. GRO will definitely try to document this collaboration and share some sweet pictures.

Time to Brainstorm / Published October 16, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Time to Brainstorm

The team is back in action after a hiatus of travel. Today we want to focus on redesigning our design statement to be less of a mission and more descriptive of the user and the user's needs. So far, we have come up with: GRO Greenhouses need to maximize agriculture efficiency in the developing world where small holder farmers need an incoming generating activity and access to better more nutritious produce.

What do you think?

Insights + Insights + Insights / Published October 8, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Insights + Insights + Insights

Our business model canvas helped us visualize the partnerships we will need to form on the ground in Mozambique. We realized that our market penetration strategy will require use to start with agro-entrepreneurs and ex-pats vs. small holder farmers. We plan to sell our greenhouses via direct asset-sale to agro-entrepreneurs and ex-pats so we can recover the capital needed to sell to small holder farmers on a cost-recovery basis. Finally, the team decided that it is crucial to develop standardized, highly visual materials appropriate for the context, which will ensure that the greenhouse is constructed the same way time and time again.

Global Foodies / Published October 8, 2014 by Staci Sutermaster

Global Foodies

The GRO Greenhouses team has learned three interesting facts relating to global food issues and our venture. According to the World Food Programme, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of hunger. One in four people are undernourished. Poor nutrition causes nearly half of the deaths in children under five. And one out of six children in developing countries is under weight. One of GRO Greenhouses long term goals is to improve maternal and infant nutrition conditions. We hope to do so by making micronutrient rich produce more available at market.

Our Team

Our Mission

GRO Greenhouses is the flagship venture of Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program. HESE is an interdisciplinary academic program in which students work across fields ...Read More

Our Background

GRO is a venture that has been creating sustainable impact for over 5 years now. We have licensed our technology to two for-profit companies, Mavuuno and The Greenhouse ...Read More

The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.