Our Story

The Journey


From ZIMMUTI to Umkele

We started out as Team ZIMMUTI in the iGEM Biohackathon. It was started by our CEO, Stephen Mukuze, due to his research into alternative materials and starch bioplastics. Sustainability still remains at the core of our company.

puzzle bush shrub

Like Magic

"Umkele" is the Zulu name for the Puzzle Bush shrub. It uses light, carbon dioxide, and water to produce leaves, berries, and biomass.
In traditional African culture, this shrub is believed to have magical properties. We are named after this mystical shrub because we are using synthetic biology techniques that seem "magical" to produce products that are sustainable.



We want to create a greener future by producing a variety of eco-friendly products that don't add to our continously growing landfills. Our products will begin with environmentally-friendly next-gen materials and expand to other industries as we continue to develop our ideas and build our technology.


Why Us?

This is a landfill near where I live. It has been an eyesore in my city for years and despite plans being made to clean it up, it has continued to grow. Burning garbage is more common than recycling because the infrastructure and systems to handle waste are not able to keep up with the waste produced.
Plastic pollution is a global crisis and the rest of Umkele have similar stories of pollution continuing to damage the environments where they each live. Joining Umkele is the way I've found to try tackling this growing issue and we hope to begin the process of enacting positive change.