We turn waste into sustainable business opportunities in mushroom and vegetable cultivation.”



The Problem

Ekofungi addresses several interlinked & important challenges for rural development:

  • Food security: Roughly 75% of the global economic disempowered population lives in rural areas of developing countries, with little-to-no access to land and proper nutrition. It is crucial to provide innovative and simple food production solutions to supply enough nutritious food, critically including protein and mineral rich food such as mushrooms.
  • Lack of economic opportunities is a persistent issue in rural areas. This project aims to generate otherwise rare entrepreneurial opportunities for income generation, particularly for vulnerable members of society in developing countries (e.g. women, orphans), taking advantage of widely-available agri-byproducts as raw material for production.
  • Climate change mitigation is often not a priority for rural development. Nonetheless, many agricultural practices, including the common burning byproducts, releases massive amounts of CO2 and pollution into the environment. It is fundamental to integrate agri-byproducts in a circular food production cycle. Our solution empowers rural communities to harness agri-byproducts to produce nutritious mushrooms, thus create economic opportunities for the local communities and avoiding environmentally harmful practices.

The Solution

Mushroom production is the only viable and socially-acceptable method to transform waste into high quality food. We seek to fully harness this potential by combining practical best-practice and scientific excellence to empower social and economic development through a flexible and adaptable circular production process tailored to the specific context of the producer — whether it is in the basement of a city center or in a peri-urban settlement in a tropical country. Specifically, our approach is suitable for a variety of cellulosic byproducts (plant stubble/ straw, sawdust & woodchips, agroprocessing waste, paper, textiles, etc.), lowers energy consumption, and lowers initial investments. Our proprietary production approach includes:

  • Substrate production vessel powered by microbes rather than heat (which is standard practice) allowing for 95% energy savings. A prototype is operationally used by Ekofungi. A smaller variety has been developed for a customer in the Netherlands.
  • Cultivation tunnels from off the shelf components providing a high level of isolation (+50 to -35 C) and steady ventilation in line with mushroom needs.
  • Substrate production vessel can be used to transform substrate residues into high quality compost to improve soil quality and carbon sequestration (by increasing soil organic matter).


Key Facts

  • Ivanka from the EkofungiSchool and Dr. Sylvia Barbieri from the Polytechnic University of Torino cultivated the world’s first mushroom on coffee waste at Ekofungi’s production facilities in Belgrade. 
  • Our approach uses local wastes as input and sustainably address cultivation byproducts.
  • Our process of production embeds sustainability into every step of mushroom and vegetable cultivation. 
  • We have 30 years experience of the farming mushrooms under all conditions, and we are an open source respected company, helping our students avoid costly errors to build a profitable, sustainable and self-gratifying businesses.


Markets and Scaling Ambitions

  • Current Market: Consulting services in Serbia, UK, Germany, Spain, Reunion, Mauritius, USA, Bosnia, Croatia, Zimbabwe. Sales of dehydrated vegetable produce in Serbia, Belgium, and France. Onsite biannual mushroom production course, so far attracting participants from 31 countries.
  • Target Markets (2020-21): We are ambitious to expand our global technology transfer projects around the world at a faster rate (2-5 per year). Moreover, we have the ambition to start collaboration with farmer cooperatives to promote the solution for individual member farmers and to support them to start specialty mushroom production to boost their incomes, beginning with rural areas in Europe. Our target markets are USA, Canada and EU.

Impact to Date

Below you will find some of the impact numbers of this venture to date. 

The Ekofungi School has received

over 90 Participants from 32 countries
and as a result, has helped create over

Successful Busineses

Education and consulting has provided mushroom farming services to clients from

6 continents representing


pieces of every product created

Investors and Partners

We invite you to join us in Geneva, Switzerland to learn about this venture and the other ten 2019 Accelerate2030 global finalists. Please contact us to learn how you can engage with us.

Media Inquiries

Please contact:

Annie Freyschlag
Communications and Programme Assistant

Press Release: Please visit homepage for link
2019 International Finalist Ventures