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HomeWealthChebet Lesan: Entrepreneur Making Charcoal, Firewood Alternative By Manufacturing Smoke-Free Biomass...

Chebet Lesan: Entrepreneur Making Charcoal, Firewood Alternative By Manufacturing Smoke-Free Biomass Briquettes

Chebet Lesan is the founder and CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy, a local company creating charcoal briquettes from waste materials.

The smoke-free briquettes provide an alternative source of clean-burning energy to firewood and charcoal.

Over the years, the 33-year-old innovator has been awarded among others the Queen’s Young Leader Award and a Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

Here is her story as told by WoK.

At BrightGreen Renewable Energy, Lesan produces fuel briquettes that are affordable, sustainable, long-lasting and eco-friendly.

She got the idea of coming up with charcoal alternative in 2015 after attending a community-based workshop in Tanzania.

In the course of the workshop, Lesan said she noticed a lot of  deforestation going on at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

In an interview with How We Made It in Africa, she said the sad realization pushed her into taking action.

Additionally, an elderly woman who hosted her on her trip to Tanzania also used firewood to prepare food, a move that didn’t sit well with her.

“I took a step back and asked myself, ‘wait a minute, what’s going on here? Should preparing food be such a difficult and hazardous task?’ I think that’s where it all started,” Lesan said.

To explore entrepreneurship, she undertook a leadership course from Cambridge University London, a supply chain management course from the Rutgers School of Business and a business design fellowship from Massachusetts Institute of Technology D-Lab.

She later set up a production line within Nairobi.

Lesan had managed to rent a large space that effortlessly allowed her to prepare and dry biomass briquettes.

The briquettes trade under the name, Moto Fuel Briquettes.

To make the briquettes, biomass waste are grinded, sifted and carefully mixed with her ‘secret ingredient.’

A machine is then used to compact the black mixture into fuel briquettes after which they are dried for two to three days.

Once they have dried, they are packed into 5kg brown paper bags and 50kg white nylon sacks for deliveries to different parts of the country.

“We usually package the 50kg for our big clients like the hospitals, hotels and restaurants. We also have womens’ groups whom we supply for retail. The 5kg packaging is for household use,” Lesan said.

They supply to retailers, hospitals and hotels.

Although the company produces at least 1.5 tonnes every day, Lesan said that they are yet to meet the demand.

“We supply very many clients. In fact, we are not producing enough at the moment but we are looking to upscale, and supply to the East Africa region as a whole,” she added.

As for raw materials, she explained;

“We get this from the farm. It is packaged in white nylon sacks and delivered once a week or depending on the demand. We then process it into the briquettes.”