With the belief that organic waste didn’t have to be trash, Inda Aung Soe started Bokashi in 2018 with the goal of raising awareness and eliminating organic waste from the cities of Myanmar. According to Inda, 7 out of 10 forms of waste generated in Myanmar come from crop fields, kitchens, and households, and are typically either burnt or disposed of illegally, generating pollution and causing disease. Bokashi is the first organic waste management company in Myanmar that focuses on the concepts of ‘urban cleaning’ and ‘urban greening.’
Through Bokashi, Inda aims to help people turn waste into compost, making it a valuable resource that they can use to grow plants in the city, such as in car parks and on the rooftops of buildings. Creating green spaces in cities is critical to help mitigate the effects of pollution through soil carbon sequestration and remove pollution from the air. If waste is not properly managed, vegetables, meat, eggs shells, and other organic materials rot, releasing a high amount of methane into the air. Through a fermentation process, bran produced from rice mills, as well as effective microorganisms in liquid form and molasses help break down waste. This product is delivered door to door or through distributors to customers.
Bokashi is well-placed to inspire and deliver useful products to more conscious consumers that are interested in organically-grown food, free of pesticides. Most people are only aware of plastic, metal, and cardboard waste as major sources of pollution, when in fact 75% of waste in Myanmar is organic. There is a significant opportunity to use that waste to regenerate the soil and protect the land from degradation, facilitating higher yields of sustainable, organic food production.
Inda identifies two important factors as barriers to solving the waste problem — one social and one cultural. Socially, people in Myanmar have a low level of awareness regarding the impact of waste on lives and the environment and when it comes to waste, many automatically think of plastic only. Culturally, people have long associated waste collection with uneducated people, people who live on the margins of society and who have no access to other forms of income. As a result, the activity of collecting waste is heavily stigmatized. Bokashi works to dismantle this stereotype, showing that it can be a successful business model while simultaneously supporting a strong-rooted social and environmental purpose. Bokashi delivers benefits across the value chain by working with local suppliers and organizations that carry the same missions, collecting waste and turning it into an environmental and social treasure.