No Waste to Waste

Nairobi, Kenya, Nairobi | February 21st, 2013

I am at the Kibera DC’s grounds and all I see are men and women wearing white branded T-shirts with EEP, Practical Action and ETC logos. It is a beehive of activities. Women are busy lighting up jikos (stove) and men are preparing the truck fitted with a public address system ready for a briquette end-user promotional roadshow in Nairobi.

As a team player, I check with the zangalewa troupe, an entertainment group using art to communicate information about the technology in a simple and clear manner. They dramatize the production process, the selling and use of the technology. The young men, disguised as old men, have a unique costume. A costume that speaks volumes of what they are about to do; educate as they entertain.

With everything ready, the entourage starts making its way into the infamous Kibera informal settlement. The men behind the public address systems call on the locals to gather and learn about briquetting technology, an alternative eco-friendly renewable energy option for the poor in society. The route is clear with stops at various points in the settlement.

At every point the truck would stop, our team would usher locals to come and witness the ‘magical’ cooking technology. They demonstrated to the crowds, using lit jikos, and asked them to confirm the advantages of the technology and its appropriateness to their environment. A technique I found interesting to check whether individuals in the crowds were following them was the use of members from the crowd to summarize the benefits and appropriateness of the technology. A few Tshirts, caps and fliers on the technology were given to those that demonstrated an understanding of how the technology works. Others were given a packet of briquettes to test the efficiency of the technology. Fliers on the technology with contact information of all the briquette entrepreneurs in their area were also distributed. This was to promote their business.

According to Emmanuel Cyoy, the briquette commercialization project Officer, “the end-user promotional roadshow in Nairobi targets to create awareness among the locals on the availability, affordability and appropriateness of briquette technology as an alternative energy source for poor. The technology uses wastes from the environment to produce the renewable energy source.”
My interaction with the entrepreneurs gave me an opportunity to have a feel of what their profits are from selling briquettes. Meet Isaiah Maobe one of the entrepreneurs. He has been in the business since the project started and acts as a mentor to upcoming briquette entrepreneurs. He says the promotional event is an opportunity to expand his market reach for briquettes. He says he chose to join other entrepreneurs on the truck to market himself as well as his business. And true to his objective, at each stop, he sold a portion of his briquettes.

“I have not only sold a few bags of briquettes today but have orders to be delivered this week worth KES 12,000”, he explained.

Maobe is not the only one who has benefitted from the sale of quality briquettes. Josephine Ngumba, a trained journalist, is also a beneficiary of the project. “After the numerous trainings on the production processes and business development systems, my business has tremendously improved for the better. I now produce quality briquettes that I sell mainly to institutions. I now have orders to supply more than a tonne of briquettes to a number of renown institutions including hospitals in Nairobi. Business is good. Such events have not only helped me sell more.”

The Nairobi event follows a similar promotional event held last week in Nakuru. It was a success, thanks to the project team members and all who supported it. Special thanks go to our development partners Energy and Environment Partnership Programme with Southern and Eastern Africa, a programme funded by the governments of Finland, Austria, United Kingdom and hosted by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

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