A group of teenagers, led by 18-year-old social entrepreneur Tom Osborn, have developed an alternative energy source to charcoal and firewood used for cooking. Originally, the idea was for a high school science fair project, but after graduation in 2013, Osborn formed it into a social enterprise named Greenchar.
While growing up, Osborn understood the effects of smoke from charcoal. It wasn’t only detrimental to his mother’s health but that of other Kenyans as well. It was also clear to him that firewood used for cooking purposes is causing deforestation in his community.
Osborn found that many types of agricultural waste, such as sugarcane bagasse and rice husks, can be used as a source of clean energy. He took these findings and created a different charcoal briquette – one that uses sugarcane bagasse. Greenchar’s briquettes are smokeless and have higher energy content and last longer than regular charcoal.
Although a young company, Greenchar has already received seed funding from Global Minimum, who is impressed with their growth. “In less than a year, Greenchar has gone from being an idea on a piece of paper to a viable social enterprise, ensuring employment, generating income, combatting respiratory tract infections while at the same time tackling deforestation,” said Global Minimum vice president Jacob Lennheden.
The company also formed a strategic partnership with Envirofit to distribute their affordable and fuel efficient cookstoves. Today, Greenchar has offices in the outskirts of Nairobi and a production plant in Migori County, Kenya.
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