ECO-FUEL AFRICA LIMITED- CREATING ALTERNATIVE GREEN JOBS FOR THE POOR!

ECO-FUEL AFRICA LIMITED- CREATING ALTERNATIVE GREEN JOBS FOR THE POOR!

Uganda
Organization type: 
for profit
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Poverty and Climate Change are the two leading challenges of our time. At Eco-fuel Africa, we have invented a sustainable solution to both. We have invented break-through clean technology that will provide energy poor households access to clean energy and create millions of green jobs for the poor who destroy forests for survival. But that’s not all, our proceeds will be used to plant trees in Africa. Our target is to create at least one million green jobs, bring clean energy closer to at least 40 million poor people and plant at least a quarter of a billion trees by 2020.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Although our machines and business model can be used in all developing countries, for the first five years, we are concentrating on Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 80% of Sub-Saharan Africans use wood-fuel as the main source of energy. However, as trees and forests disappear, wood-fuel is increasingly becoming harder to find. As a result, families now spend almost 60 percent of their incomes on wood-fuel. This is worsening poverty levels of these already miserably poor people. Also, as forests disappear, women and children, especially girls have to spend days and travel for long distances to find wood-fuel for their families. This is increasing school-dropouts for school going girls in Africa and reducing time available to women to engage in income generating activities. Over dependence on wood-fuel in Africa is also worsening the effects of Climate Change and yet the poor are so vulnerable and have no capacity to cope with weather related disasters. The rate of unemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa especially among rural youths and women is also alarming. Most of these almost never have a choice to become a factory worker, lawyer or teacher. They therefore turn to forests and other available resources for survival. This is worsening the rate of deforestation. There is therefore an urgent need to find solutions to the problems of deforestation and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. At Eco-fuel Africa Limited we believe we have invented the silver bullet to these challenges and we need your support to take it to scale.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We have invented a unique and energy efficient method of making organic charcoal from agricultural waste. Our new method is suitable for large-scale production and will enable us to provide millions of energy poor households with a clean, sustainable and cheaper alternative to wood-fuel. Our new method also doesn’t emit greenhouse gases like the traditional methods of making charcoal; We have also invented the world’s first solar powered briquetting machine which is made wisely from recycled materials and is affordable and easy to use. This will enable millions of poor people mainly in rural areas to start small-scale organic charcoal making plants as a business; Our business model is also creating many green jobs for people at the bottom of the pyramid. We are creating jobs for youths who transport organic charcoal on bicycles; poor women who distribute organic charcoal and rural farmers who are starting small-scale organic charcoal manufacturing plants using our machines. This is a business that even a person who can't write their name can do. We have also found an innovative way to reduce deforestation in developing countries. We deliberately target people who depend on activities that destroy forests and help them to have an alternative source of income. We also use part of our proceeds to plant trees. We are simply the new kings of green in Africa!
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

First of all, we make and distribute organic charcoal from agricultural waste as an alternative to wood-fuel. Our organic charcoal is distributed through a network of small-scale retailers mainly made up of poor women and youths previously surviving on cutting down trees. This is creating alternative green jobs for people at the base of the pyramid. Secondly, we make low-cost kilns and solar-powered briquetting machines from locally available materials and help community based groups to start small-scale organic charcoal manufacturing plants. We train these groups in briquette making and supply them with the equipment and machinery required. We then link them to markets or buy the charcoal from them directly Thirdly, we use our proceeds to plant trees in Africa in order to try and replace the trees already lost. With the help of the new tree planting club we recently started called "FOR TREES", we hope to plant at least a quarter of a billion trees in Africa by 2020. This will make Africa an immense carbon sink and help to mitigate climate change.
About You
Organization:
ECO-FUEL AFRICA LIMITED
About You
About Your Organization
Organization Name

ECO-FUEL AFRICA LIMITED

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact

, XX

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

In January, 2009, I travelled to my home village in Western Uganda to visit my Mother. On my way home, I met my sister carrying a bundle of firewood on her head and I was shocked to discover from her that she had missed school that day and walked for 10 kilometers to buy firewood. As we walked home, she told me with tears flowing down her beautiful face about the burden she goes through every day to find cooking fuel because it’s now impossible to find firewood in the neighborhood because all the trees have been cut down. That day, I made a decision to dedicate my entire life to helping the poor find an alternative to wood-fuel and to find a solution to deforestation in Africa.

I would quit my job to start Eco-fuel Africa Limited, a social enterprise that is dedicated to giving the poor a clean alternative to wood-fuel and planting trees in Africa. With only $500 raised mainly from my personal savings and from selling my household items, we managed to launch a pilot plant and invented a unique energy-efficient method of making organic charcoal from agricultural waste that is suitable for large-scale production. In November 2010, our first batch of organic charcoal landed on the market. We have also formed a club called FOR TREES through which we plant trees in Africa.

People say that I am obsessed with stopping deforestation and creating sustainable jobs for the poor and I believe they are right.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

When we started in June, 2010, we had two major goals: to design a solar-powered briquetting machine and to design a business model that will deliberately create millions of alternative green jobs for people at the base of the pyramid. We have so far achieved both goals.

We successfully made the world’s first solar-powered briquetting machine from locally available and recycled materials. This machine will be used by millions of rural people to set up small-scale businesses making organic charcoal from agricultural waste.

We have also succeeded in creating an innovative business model that will create millions of green jobs for poor women, youths and rural farmers in developing countries.

We measure our success basing on two factors: sustainability and impact created at the base of the pyramid.

We use customer surveys to receive feedback about the impact created. We also keep records of all new jobs created as a result of our project. Already, we have helped to start two small-scale organic charcoal making plants in rural Uganda employing 10 people each directly and indirectly creating jobs for many other poor people in villages.

We have also trained and empowered 15 women to start small-scale distribution franchises for the organic charcoal made by us or by our entrepreneurs.

However, while statistics are an important measure of our success, it’s the individual stories of the poor people whose lives have changed who are our most important achievement. For example, Namubiru Sarah is a single mother in Uganda with two beautiful children. Before she enrolled for our entrepreneurship-training program, she had no job because she lacked any marketable skills. Today, she runs a successful organic charcoal distribution franchise and she is able to feed her family. Our dream is to give millions of other people like Sarah an opportunity to a better future.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

101-1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

We are still operating in only Uganda now but we plan to extend to all the five East African countries in the next three years.

We are also designing a strategy to include people with disabilities in our business model especially in our distribution chain. Our dream is a world where all people have equal opportunities.

In addition to equipping people with skills and helping them to access the machinery needed to start small-scale business, we hope in the next three years to have formed enough partnerships with microfinance companies to be able to help our entrepreneurs access micro-loans as well. This will enable them to turn their businesses into sustainable ventures that create jobs and meet local energy needs.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

High poverty levels: We target people at the bottom of the pyramid most of whom earn less than a dollar a day. This may make it hard to turn these people into successful entrepreneurs and consumers. As a solution to this, we shall form these people into groups and work with microfinance organizations to enable them access soft loans.
We have also designed a revolutionary credit policy which will enable us to supply our machines to these people on credit and then receive payments in small manageable installments.

High levels of illiteracy and ignorance: About 70 percent of our target customers are unable to read and write. This will make training and empowerment hard. As a solution, our training courses will be designed in local languages and mainly practical rather than theoretical skills will be emphasized.
We shall also work with local governments and relevant NGOs to ensure that our customers are empowered and acquire the required skills and resources necessary to start and manage successful organic charcoal manufacturing and distribution businesses.

Tell us about your partnerships

Our most important partners are the local communities we work with. We work with local women groups, youth groups and rural farmers. These are the people who live the reality of our dream. They make our work possible by investing their time, commitment and social capital while we provide the training, access to technology and business support.

We are also working with Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST). These offered us basic technical training and we have also consulted them on a number of other technical issues.

We have also received support from Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) an umbrella of private companies in Uganda. PSFU trained us and equipped us with business plan writing skills and offered us a grant of $ 10,000 on behalf of government of Uganda. They have also recognized our project as a timely, needed and environmentally correct.

The founder of this project, Mr. Moses Sanga is also an Unreasonable Institute Fellow, 2011 and we hope that this fellowship will be important in shaping the future of Eco-fuel Africa Limited. Here is the link to his profile: http://unreasonableinstitute.org/profile/msanga/

Explain your selections

Friends and family: The founder invested USD 1,200 of his personal funds in the project. USD 500 was money he saved while he was still employed. He raised the USD 700 by selling some of his personal property like household furniture;

National Government: We won a grant of USD 10,000 from the Ugandan government in September, 2010. USD 5000 has already been remitted on our bank account and the balance will be received soon;

Customers: We get income from sales. We sell organic charcoal to local communities at a profit and all proceeds are re-invested into the business.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

Increase sales: Now that we are sure of the quality of our charcoal and our solar powered briquetting machines and kilns, we are working on an efficient and effective sales plan to enable us increase sales in order to generate enough internal revenue to finance our budget;

Look for more external funders: We are participating in this competition because we want to raise capital to strengthen our business. We shall keep looking out for other opportunities like this one;

Partnerships will be formed with microfinance organizations, local governments and NGOs: We are currently working on a strategy that will enable us to form partnerships with community based groups, relevant NGOs and local governments to enable us form stronger relationships with local communities, local leaders and other stakeholders. This will enable us reach more people and have more impact especially among the people at the bottom of the pyramid

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Lack of skills/training

SECONDARY

Underemployment

TERTIARY

Lack of access to information and networks

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

Training and Empowerment: We train women groups, youth groups, farmers and individuals and turn them into manufactures and distributors organic charcoal and planters of trees;

Job Creation: We create sustainable and meaningful green jobs for unemployed or underemployed youths, women and rural farmers. These jobs are both direct and indirect. This is helping many people out of poverty and reducing environmental degradation because many unemployed youths turn to activities that destroy the environment for survival;

Linkages: We link our entrepreneurs to microfinance companies, NGOs and markets to enable them grow their distribution franchises or organic charcoal manufacturing businesses

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

SECONDARY

Leveraged technology

TERTIARY

Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

We intend to scale-up the manufacturing of our solar-powered briquetting machines. This will enable us to help many rural people to start small-scale rural-based organic charcoal manufacturing plants.

We are also currently researching about whether the char powder made by our kilns can be used as organic fertilizers. The initial tests are very positive and if everything goes according to plan, we shall soon start teaching farmers how to make organic fertilizers locally using our kilns. This will improve crop yields and improve incomes of farmers.

We have also developed a mentorship and training program focused on people at the base of the pyramid that we intend to scale-up to involve as many local communities in Sub-Saharan Africa as possible.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

We have received funding from our local government;

We have also received technical training and invaluable support from nonprofit organizations like Uganda Industrial Research Institute and Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (UNCST). These offered us basic technical training and we have also consulted them on a number of other technical issues.

We have also worked with other organizations like the Unreasonable Institute through its annual fellowship. This will enable us to learn from world-class mentors and form partnerships with potential investors.