Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.
A local group that chooses to work with us will first become more efficient in waste management. In our studies, we found that while there is tacit knowledge in waste collection within the local groups such as the optimal routes and service fee structure, such knowledge is often lost due to rapid turnover in the group membership, so that the approaches by different members are often haphazard. We use GPS tracking tags to spatially map the collection routes to identify underserved customers, and knowing the spatially uneven income distribution within the slum, work out a waste collection pricing structure that will increase the customer size. For example, since the group can earn income simply by selling the waste they collect, it may make sense to provide the waste collection for free for the poorest neighborhoods. The increased customer base (from 100 to about 250 households per group) will allow the groups to operate at full capacity (currently most groups work part-time and need to find other odd jobs). Many groups already sort their garbage, but if not, then we train the groups to separate waste into different streams (plastic/metal to sell to recycling plants, and organic waste to sell to us). We arrange for daily collection of organic waste at fixed time from the local groups, and inspect the sorted organic waste for quality control. Groups that consistently turn in quality organic waste will receive higher compensation (up to 2000 Ksh/ton of organic waste) from us. We estimate that a group operating at full capacity can triple each member’s income compared to before.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.
So far we have sold more than 15 tons of our product, which has shown to be profit-making. We actually have farmers who are willing to drive more than 50 km to pick up our product. This has helped the community save more than US$500. Not only that, our project has also managed more than 60 tons of discarded farm waste, which would otherwise have been set on fire to create toxic pollution and contribute towards urban smog. This is equivalent to roughly 80 tons of averted greenhouse gas and particulate emissions into the atmosphere. Furthermore, we have also engaged in extensive training and dissemination of our biochar converter in various communities such as Rumuruti, Nairobi, Machakos, Meru, and Mombasa. One community, for example, pooled together their resources and invested in more than 70 biochar converters amongst themselves.
Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?
To maximize our impact, we have made our $20 biochar converter open-source without patents, so that any farmer can locally manufacture the converter from his/her village metalworker. This helps us eliminate the barrier in setting up our own manufacturing process and distribution channel. On the other hand, our unique fortification recipe is being made at a central facility and will be distributed via agricultural partners and anchor institutions throughout Kenya and beyond. To scale beyond Kenya, we will use the commissioned agent model, and are already talking to potential partners.