When the government announced a ban on single use plastics, a few years ago, Shaheen Jeenathally and her husband, Landry Manzi, saw a big business opportunity. They only needed to be creative enough to come up with something eco-friendly, but not so ordinary. After doing their research, the couple started Jeena Trade Ltd, a company currently making straws which, once you’re done using, you can simply eat as a little snack instead of throwing them into the trash.If you don’t want to eat them, you can throw them without guilt, because they will decompose. Their premium quality single-use straws last up to two hours in a drink and can be chewed for fun after use. They are made using rice, corn starch, cassava flour, water, food colours, and other food additives. It was earlier this year that Jeenathally and Manzi established their factory at the Special Economic Zone, in Kigali. In April, they started manufacturing, not only to make money, but also to support the country’s quest for eco-friendly alternatives. Jeenathally, who is from the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, was back home when the ban on single-use plastics was announced in Rwanda, in 2019. Her husband being Rwandan, she did not find it hard to come back and explore the business opportunity. The idea was to provide an eco-friendly replacement for the banned single-use plastics. They came up with a natural edible solution to plastic or paper straws. Got idea by surfing online Their edible straws which promote a zero waste lifestyle are plastic free, nontoxic and biodegradable. “We got the idea of edible straws by surfing online, and noticing that such is an available option,” Jeenathally told Doing Business.After getting the necessary documentation for the business, the duo got their factory running. It is currently producing straws that are affordable and last longer in a drink than paper straws. “I believe this product is much needed in Rwanda, because single-use plastic is banned, paper is imported and in little quantity,” Jeenathally noted. The raw materials that the company uses are 90 per cent sourced in Rwanda. Though the edible straws idea is quite exciting, Jeenathally said, the company faces challenges related to the fact that the local market is slow to embrace new products. The factory has the capacity to produce up to seven million edible straws per month, but due to a limited market, it only manufactures a million currently.“For now, I produce 1,000 boxes (each contains 1,000 straws). Out of this, I am able to sell 400 to 500 boxes per month. I am very far from my goals,” she noted. With such challenges, she noted that the company is currently exploring the possibility of exporting its products to some African countries including Mauritius. “We are in contact with RSB (Rwanda Standards Board) so that we can get an S-Mark. As soon as we have it, I am thinking of exporting beyond the borders of Rwanda,” she said.