Social Entrepreneur from Kenya Wins Prestigious Global Fellowship

March 1, 2012

NAIROBI, KENYA- Rev. Nelson Kariuki of Kitale, Kenya has been selected by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public as a member of its global fellowship of leading social entrepreneurs.  His election to Ashoka has just been announced in recognition of his many years of work innovating in the field of rural development.  

Rev. Nelson Kariuki has worked for more than 10 years to launch the organic fertilizer industry in Kenya and, in so doing, employ scores of rural youth. Nelson sees the widespread use of organic fertilizer as a fundamental shift that can start to reverse the effects inorganic fertilizer has had on soils over the years.  Soil that has been heavily treated with inorganic fertilizers has a reduced capacity to retain nutrients that plants need to grow and, in some areas, yields have fallen by over 60% over the last 50 years. With a patented new product, the new regulatory framework to produce and sell locally made organic fertilizer called Rutuba, and a business model that relies on a grassroots value chain of young people who source, produce, and sell organic fertilizer, Nelson’s innovation is transforming rural lives and the environment. At scale, an industry based on Nelson’s model has the potential to employ hundreds of thousands of people across both rural and urban Kenya.

Salim Mohamed, Ashoka’s Representative for East Africa: “When we first started learning about Rev. Nelson’s idea, we thought we were looking at an environmental entrepreneur.  He is, of course.  But over time we came to understand that his vision is much bigger. He aspires to unlock the potential of young people and employ thousands of rural entrepreneurs in the new industry he is creating, with teams of Rutuba sourcers, producers, and sellers in every county in Kenya.”

Rev. Nelson Kariuki is the 50th Fellow elected by Ashoka East Africa.  He now joins 49 other Fellows from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda elected since 2001 and more than 2,800 Ashoka Fellows globally. 


About Ashoka

Ashoka is the world's leading network of social entrepreneurs – extraordinary changemakers, who find new solutions to social problems; like Muhammad Yunus, who pioneered the microfinance sector. Founded by Bill Drayton in 1980, Ashoka supports social entrepreneurs with stipends, professional support, and/or access to its large network of global peers. Ashoka has to date elected and supported more than 2,700 social entrepreneurs in 70 countries. For more information, please visit

((Contact Simon Stumpf -details above- for more information, interviews, etc.))