Bright Green Renewable Energy

Bright Green Renewable Energy : Creating Charcoal Briquettes from urban and agricultural Waste in Nairobi City

Nairobi, KenyaNairobi, Kenya
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

We produce cheap eco-friendly charcoal briquettes by recycling urban waste from towns and agricultural waste from farms.We play a key role in providing clean affordable renewable energy for low income households, curbing deforestation caused by charcoal burning and cleaning up our environment.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we used garbage to create charcoal instead of cutting down trees?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We all require energy to cook. In Kenya,over 82% of Kenyans use charcoal, made from trees. Attempts to meet this demand has led to massive deforestation,with 22 million cubic metres of wood carbonised annually to make charcoal.In Nairobi alone,households use 700 tonnes of charcoal a day. Severe shortage of trees has inflated charcoal prices. Charcoal is bankrupting many households with each family spending upto 500$annually on this fuel.

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

We design and create charcoal briquettes using urban waste material from the city and agricultural waste from farms.We have formulated a special combination to ensure the product is efficient, eco-friendly and affordable. Cleaning up the environment through removal of solid waste is one of our core activities. By producing charcoal from waste we are playing a role in preserving our trees, providing clean renewable energy as well as maintaining a clean environment for our city. Our briquettes are cheaper than wood charcoal, therefore saving our users money. Our green charcoal is designed to produce no smoke when burned, reducing the risk of getting respiratory tract infections and improving health outcome for our users.


None yet
Impact: How does it Work

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

Pamela, a mother of three living in Kibera slum, initially spent 35$ on charcoal monthly. This was 50% of her income.Ever since she began to use our briquettes her expenditure reduced to 18$. She testifies that our product is cheaper, burns long saving her time and money. She now puts money saved into a kitty to grow her kiosk business. Mulinge, is one of several a young and enthusiastic casual laborers in our waste collection activity in Nairobi.He never imagined that waste could be turned into fuel briquettes and earn him a living.He is now the breadwinner in his family, and is able to send his younger brother to school.He is glad to be impacting families by cleaning up their environment and providing them with cheap eco-friendly fuel.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Projected Future Impact -Job Creation: The scaling-up of production of green charcoal will present job opportunities for the locals. Skilled and semi-skilled labour will be sought from the surrounding communities. -Economic Development: Affordably priced green charcoal will allow the consumers to invest their earnings (otherwise spent on fuel) in other activities i.e education of children and income generating activities -Improvement of Quality of life: Health & welfare of surrounding communities and their environment -Acceleration of Climate Action: Providing a substitute to wood charcoal will reduce destruction of our natural forests, carbon emissions and global warming.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

-Grow to 200 fulltime staff to facilitate production,administration&distribution requirements -Partner with rice,sugar and maize mill plants around Kenya by setting up independent briquettemaking stations to recycle their waste. -Acquisition of machinery to increase production to 100tonnes monthly at each site -Acquisition of transport vehicles to facilitate transport of raw materials and finished goods -Establishing intellectual property rights as we build on R&D of our product -Develop & implement advertising,sale&distribution models to increase visibility &sales of our product

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our initial start up costs will be mainly be obtained from grants and well wishers.This will be used to put all structures in placei.e acquisition of machines, leases, raw material etc.Once we have this setup, the production phase will be a revenue generating model based on the market analysis,pricing strategy and distribution channel plan we have put in place. This will enable us to scale upwards and increase our production on a consistent basis

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The charcoal problem in Kenya has been addressed in many ways including introduction of improved cooking stoves to reduce the amount of charcoal needed to cook. However,many of these solutions are still dependent on wood charcoal as the mother product and still drive demand for wood charcoal. Our charcoal is completely independent of deforestation. By using urban waste,we create an eco-­friendly, safe and efficient charcoal. Our plant,we are assured of a consistent supply of our raw materials from urban waste, released from cities everyday, and we have a ready charcoal market within the city.

Founding Story

As a young girl, I grew up in an area polluted with tonnes of waste and dumping sites. My first job involved intense work in the design and print industry. During my stay in this industry, I sadly realized that I was part of the waste problem. The waste produced daily in our printing press pained me. I tasked myself with finding a way to reuse the waste produce in my company. Last year (2014) I was privileged to be selected as a Kenyan finalist to participate in an international design summit( IDDS ) where I learnt how waste is transformed into fuel. This triggered something in me. I wanted to be part of the solution. I quit my job and began the journey to create charcoal briquettes.


Team Members Chebet (Full-time) - Founder, Product & business development lead: Identifies key opportunities and drives effective results. Leads innovation and R&D of products. Alvin (Part-time) - CO-Founder, Business analysis and project management :Armed with effective communication and practical approach skills, he drives strategic direction, I.T processes and analyzes product implementation. Rebecca ( Full-time)- Administration and HR management: Her role involves supervising and co-ordinating daily activities including managing workers and office administration. Tom (Part-time)- Project Engineer: With a keen eye for every detail, he designs, develops, co-ordinates and supervises fabrication and maintenance of machinery. Betty(Part-time)- Financial analysis: Possessing a keen interest in finance, she makes strategic decisions and analyses the company’s financial plans and projections. Juliette(Part-time)- Marketing Lead: Having worked in research and community development, her role involves sensitizing users and market entry co-ordination, branding and advertising. Our Board Members: Prof.Lesan: Guidance in the acquisition of required licenses from local authorities and governments. Dr.Angela: Guidance in research and development and iteration of our products. Ben: Guidance on business development and management. Roy: Guidance on design and effectiveness of locally produced machinery. Aspel : Guidance on legal processes, documentation and protection of intellectual property
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Recommendation by a friend currently studying in Cambridge University

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:


Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Affordable and Clean Energy.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

As a young designer in my 2nd year of university (2009), I realized that in the wake of a modern design world, we (Kenya) were at risk of losing valuable cultures and phenomenon unique to Kenya. My vision saw me launch Isel Creative Designs where I served as CEO and Lead Designer. Our goal is to preserve Kenya’s cultural heritage by adding a touch of our art and culture into modern corporate brand sets and development.Focusing on international events, summits and conferences, we made our mark through creating artistic handmade invitations, course material, brand concepts, uniforms and promotional items all reflecting a touch of Kenya's authentic cultures. Since my departure in 2014 as CEO, Isel's team continues to grow and serve the industry.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

At BrightGreen, we are passionate about our environment. We love trees. It's this passion that has seen us participate in several tree planting activities, where we play a key role in communication and resource planning. Currently, we have partnered with a local NGO, KWEN whom we are undertaking a tree nursery planting project in Bomet County. Currently, our nursery houses about 1500tree seedlings that we use to facilitate these tree planting events. Aside from this, we partner with FOONDI to organize and facilitate community events and capacity building sessions to train on innovation, environmental conservation and entrepreneurship for women and youth.
We have a 5 member advisory board, who guide us on legal issues, strategic direction, business development and financial issues. Personally, I have a forward-looking mentor who encourages me and puts things into perspective for me. We meet on a weekly basis to discuss progress made, various challenges faced and solutions to them.