GGGI checked in with Kakembo Galabuzi Brian, one of the winners from the 2018 Greenpreneurs competition, for an update on his green enterprise and the achievements he’s made since the end of last year’s program.
His team’s winning project is called “WEYE Clean Energy Company”, which started from initial research on how to utilize briquettes for institutional and industrial heating purposes. From this research, his company was able to successfully develop institutional briquette stove technology that converts waste to energy, which has numerous beneficial features, such as reducing heat loss and built-in solar powered fans to increase oxygen supply for increased burning efficiency.
Through the Greenpreneurs 2018 program, WEYE was able to set off on the right track with a business model suited to the company’s needs and $5000 of seed funding. In his progress update, Brian explained how “the 8 weeks program exposed us to the right mentors with the right information to turn our team into experts in green business model development. Within the 8 weeks we managed to turn our ideas into a working business model that later was selected among the top four winning business models”. With the funding WEYE received for winning the competition, they were able to build four additional cook stoves in two schools and invest in scaling up their production.
After testing the prototype with the St. Kizito High School in Namugongo, the experiment found that the school spent $2085 less than they would have if they had used firewood. They also discovered that the stoves provided additional benefits, including being beneficial for the health of the cooking staff and overall efficiency, as the stoves wouldn’t produce smoke in the kitchen and cooking time reduced by 50%.
Environmentally, his enterprise is able to reduce deforestation and save an estimated 1080 trees on an annual basis from the switch to using agricultural waste in place of firewood, thus reducing the demand and helping to ensure that a greater amount of CO2 will be absorbed from the natural environment.
The company also provides benefits to the local community through the creation of green jobs. Aside from the jobs WEYE creates, it sources 65% of its raw materials from farmers who earn additional income from selling their carbonized agricultural waste, which the farmers would have otherwise regarded as useless.
However, his success hasn’t been without overcoming certain challenges. Three of the biggest obstacles WEYE has had to overcome, were for raw material sourcing, transportation issues, and the market expansion gap. As there is a growing demand for raw materials, the company had to reach out beyond its current source of suppliers, so it began to target waste leaves from palm farms as well. This has not only helped the palm farmers but has been able to provide a quality source through which WEYE discovered it could utilize.
To the candidates of this year’s Greenpreneurs Competition, Brian would like to share that, “If you invest enough time, the Greenpreneurs program is the best platform to build and test run your green business. Utilize your mentors, subject matter experts and your colleagues to prototype and test your idea before you unleash it to the world.”
Going forward, Brian’s future plans for WEYE include scaling up its briquettes and cook stove business through investing in raw material processing and renovation for more stoves in schools, further diversifying their markets, and diversifying their green enterprise through expanding the WEYE team to include experts in solar systems, water and sanitation, and smart agriculture.