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Leroy Mwasaru: The Kenyan Innovator Producing Power From Human Waste

Leroy Mwasaru is a social entrepreneur, innovator and co-founder of Greenpact, a social enterprise that offers clean renewable Biogas solutions to institutions and homes in Kenya. He co-founded the company in 2013 while still a student at Maseno School.

Greepact produces and distributes affordable and high-quality innovative biogas digester systems which produce bio-gas from both agricultural and human refuse.

His innovative work was featured in multiple media houses across the world including CNN, Huffington Post, Forbes, Citizen TV, NTV, among others.

Mwasaru is also the founder of CampBuni, a conscious social enterprise that offers Human Centered Design Thinking for high school students both at KSCE and IGSCE level in Kenya, even engaging corporates for their first innovation camp.

Leroy Mwasaru: The Kenyan Innovator Producing Power From Human Waste
Leroy Mwasaru. Image/ Courtesy

In 2016, he was part of those chosen for the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) programme. In 2018, he was featured on Forbes 30 Under 30 in the business category.

Founding Greenpact

Mwasaru capitalised on an opportunity at the Maseno School to start his company. At the time, the institution had a faulty sewer system which polluted water in a nearby stream used by the community. This sparked protests from locals who stated that the water was unfit for domestic use since it had been contaminated by the human refuse from the school.

“There was uproar from the local community. It was the only source of fresh water, and nobody wants faeces in their water,” Mwasaru recalled during an interview with CNN.

He also noted that the school used firewood in the kitchens and therefore the high demand for logs and timber continued to affect the forest balance in the area.

Mwasaru was inspired to develop a mechanism that would allow the school use the waste for cooking, all while keeping up with school work.

“There were some people who thought it would not work – the attitude was very negative.

“We came up with workshops in the school and in the community to convince people, and the response became more positive,” he said.

It took Mwasaru almost a year to move from the idea phase to the prototype phase. First they had to build tanks to hold the waste. In the first phase, they used cow dung to test whether Mwasaru’s idea would work.

Impressed by the young man’s innovative thinking, Innovate Kenya awarded the teens funds to purchase a digester, which helps with the process. Gas produced in the pit was then filtered through a pipe into the kitchen, and used on the stoves to cook food.

Once they proved that his idea worked, Mwasaru began using human waste and the school benefited from using the biogas power. After the successful school project, the young man was hellbent on doing more.

“After the school prototype was working I showed my dad, and he was very impressed. I helped him build a similar system and now he uses it for cooking.”

Since his home has more cows than humans, Mwasaru used dung to generate biogas which they gladly share with the neighborhood which comprises about 30 houses.

“With the gas they don’t spend time searching and carrying wood. They are really happy about that.”

Since winning the Innovate Kenya prize, Leroy has been invited for several programmes outside Kenya, including being an Audi scholar for One Young World. In 2016 he was selected as part of the Harvard Social Innovation Collaborative Global trailblazers, where he represented Kenya at the Igniting Innovations Summit at Harvard University.

Greenpact has made Leroy a millionaire, and the young entrepreneur hopes to carve a niche in Kenya’s renewable energy sector, and eventually pursue opportunities in East Africa.