Alternative charcoal production in Africa
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
The world Bank defines Sustainable development as- “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Bank). Such development should address three elements of life simultaneously: social, economic and environment. Our solution focuses on preserving trees thus, saving our environment/planet. We engage the youth and women in lucrative agriculture, thus offering alternative income source to farmers and families. We believe this way, rural dwelling families can earn income to facilitate their adequate utilisation of existing free delivery policy in Ghana, enable families to enrol and maintain their wards in school, and above all enabling/empowering communities towards descent lives within healthy environments. Thus, we encouraging responsible actions to solving man-made problems. Additionally, we offer a feasible solution to youth rural-urban migration that is high among jobless youth who leave their villages to urban areas in search of jobs. We run a pilot with five households from five communities on how to grow and use our product. Our developed prototype is constantly under improvement (growing/performance/characteristics). Currently, we completed other experiments on how our core material or by- products could provide raw material for briquetting in combination with starches for example. We have positive results. Basic tests for Kcal and CO2 determination have signalled a positive side to our product compared to wood charcoal, yet the complete scientific tests are ongoing in a renowned university in the Netherland. Additionally, during a just ended start-up pitch competition (Meweek 2016, Maastricht) this project was in the finals out of 18 competitors. I am constantly working with my team back home who are helping with anything from continuous interviews, education and product testing.We are working on two approaches to determine the best way of reducing CO2 emissions from our activities (site/vehicular).
Sustainability and future plans
Our business model is simple. We take a margin of every product sale. What is different, we use the fair trade model. So, just like the cocoa model, we provide our licenced farmers with everything they need from education, machinery to the best farming methods that we are constantly improving. We buy the product from them and then sell it on the market. We believe in the power of the local community, so to sustain our business model, we strongly believe in maintaining a positive relationship with our farmers and our customers. Our revenue streams include distribution (sales), state subsidies, research and development and of course donations (long term) from both local and international energy and environmental commissions and individuals. Following our successful pilot study, we are upscaling production up to 20 acres early next year. We are working on partnership with agronomists to help improve cultivation and yield. Our estimated ROI based on cost mostly borne by the company with minimal cost to the farmer, has been calculated at 800%. This project is highly scalable given curated feedback from both farmers and users, existing high charcoal demand (over 80%) on the African continent and of course existence of vast unused farm lands and motivated farmers . Other useful products from the core material have been identified which will be worth developing, but only after our successful market penetration with our main product. For instance, the edible seeds contain pods from which oil or soap could be produced at commercial level. We are also looking into partnership with both local and international stove developers to incrementally improve existing cooking stove in Africa with design for full maximization and efficiency of our product. By this way, we hope to create a huge employment avenue for farmers and local industries.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
I was born on 6th July 1982, thus, 34 years now. I earned my bachelor degree in Nursing and psychology from the University of Ghana (2004-2008). I have over 5 years work experience both in clinical and community health. I have organised and engaged communities for community activities (health education, developmental activities among others with PROJECTS ABROAD GHANA). I have been trained also in NGO management from Assurance Ghana Group as well as Health and Safety from the Ghana Development/Productivity Institute. Recently, I was awarded a High Potential Scholarship for a master of healthcare Policy, Innovation and Management (Maastricht Uni. Netherland) which I completed successfully. Along side, I earned a Diploma and certificate in Leadership in European Public Health and Problem Based Learning Approach respectively from the same university. My skills are combined with my team: five selected amazing community members who do anything from testing, educating and empowering farmers in other communities on how to grow and use our product. We have experts (with patents) in the field of energy and biofuel advising us. My dream is together with this team, address energy issues making our planet healthier. I direct all basic testing with the Ghana based team while in consultation with the experts on technical issues. Together with this team and community members, combined with my policy background, I am fast improving my understanding and skills required for this sector.