An Overview Of Our Solution
- Population Impacted:
- Continent: Africa
P.O.BOX 34714, Kampala
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose
Local threats to resources
Level of sensitivity
Level of adaptive capacity
EFA Business Model using agricultural waste as the row material: Though wood-biomass and charcoal fuel use in particular, with low agricultural productivity are interlinked, most current development strategies address these problems separately. Eco-Fuel Africa (EFA) together with the key stakeholders came up with a sustainable, integrative market solution that addresses these complex development challenges simultaneously by creating carbon, or ?char,? from sustainable and renewable biomass such as agricultural waste (rather than trees), and promotes its use as both a cooking fuel (?green charcoal?) as well as a sustainable soil amendment (?biochar?). This model begins with a network of smallholder farmers, who are trained to produce char out of their agricultural waste biomass (sugar cane litter, maize cobs/husks, rice straw/husks, stover, tea pruning etc) using simple, easy-to-use kilns constructed from locally sourced recycled 55-gallon barrels. Capacity building trainings (lasting 3 to 5 days) are conducted to train farmers. After the capacity building trainings, each farmer takes home a kiln under a lease-to-own program and monetizes their waste biomass by converting it into char, about 80 percent of which is sold to EFA and 20 percent of which is retained by the farmers and applied to their gardens as biochar, an organic fertilizer which has scientifically proven to increase soil fertility, increase water retention and sequester C02 by burying it in the soil where it belongs. Farmers are able to make incomes of up to $30/month from selling char to EFA, augmenting incomes in Uganda by 20-40 percent and paying off the kiln in 3-12 months. Farmers are also able to increase their food harvests by over 50 percent by applying biochar to their gardens. It is important to note that while the inclusion of biochar in the EFA value chain amplifies social impact, it also makes business sense. Higher crop yields not only result in more food to harvest, it also increases the volume of waste biomass available for conversion to char after the harvest. By blending biochar introduction into a green charcoal production model, EFA is able to maximize char production per kiln, resulting in better profit margins for all stakeholders across the supply chain. EFA promotes the use of biochar through demonstration sites within the community and by working closely with the leadership of local farmer cooperatives, so that there is a natural adoption of the soil amendment. Most farmers find the waste management of their agricultural residues an inconvenient nuisance and burn the waste in open fields. This leads to the increase of C02 in the air and other harmful pollutants. EFA has successfully been able to turn waste management into something of significant value for the farmers. EFA than buys the char from farmers who bring it directly to the central production center, as well as to EFA?s decentralized collection centers which are in villages close to the farmers .Records of production and sales are maintained by both parties, farmers are paid cash for their char, and the char is brought to a central production facility.EFA then converts the char bought from farmers into clean burning fuel briquettes that people can use to cook their food and heat their homes instead of fuel-wood using simple locally available technology. At the production facility the business runs the char through a grinder and sifts out the remaining chunks of char. The char is then broken into dust, mixed with water into a slurry, and run through mechanical briquette press machine called the Eco-fuel Press. Eco-fuel Press requires no electricity to operate and like the kiln is designed to be simple to operate and maintain, even for those individuals who are not accustomed to operating machinery. This is enabling EFA to take clean cooking fuel to villages with no electricity and create many jobs for youths, women and farmers at the base of the pyramid. The resultant green charcoal briquettes are dried in the sun and ambient heat for 1 to 2 days and then bagged for delivery.
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit
EFA uses part of the proceeds from the sale of the bio charchol to tackle the growing problem of deforestation by planting trees. As part of this effort EFA has funded the formation of a club called ?FOR TREES? which works with local schools and communities to replant trees. Already, the FOR TREES campign has planted 15,000 trees, this campign will improve on the quality of the envriment. secondly, Feedstock availability is the fundamental limiting factor for briquette production. Uganda's agricultural sector produces about 7.9 million tons of crop residues per year (UNEP, 2001). Drum kiln temperatures range from 20-33 percent efficiency, allowing a theoretical yield of 1.58-2.58 million tons of carbonized material. Given that briquettes are equivalent in energy to wood charcoal, and that Uganda?s charcoal consumption is about 850,000 tons annually(UN DESA, 2010), the entire wood charcoal market could be replaced by converting just under half of available crop residues into briquettes. Unlike with forests,there is no concern about depleting a precious resource, or main source of raw material.
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit
Limited capital .
To dateover 3,500 marginalized households and over 500 small-scale businesses in Uganda are now consistently using EFA?s clean burning fuel briquettes for cooking and heating instead of the expensive and destructive fuel-wood. Users of EFA?s clean burning fuel briquettes save at least $200/year. Additionally, they do not have to worry about indoor air pollution or depleting forests for fuel. This is enabling marginalized girls to concentrate on school, marginalized women now have more time to go to the garden and families spend less on fuel costs and hospital bills.
Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit
The number of volunable women whose income levels have increased as a result of our interventios The number of volunrables who are being supported by their families to attend and complete a particular cycle of school. The number of household that are food secure
What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?
The micro-francishing model is critical to guarding against various risks. First, poor infrastructure creates difficulties transporting raw materials and finished products, increasing the end cost to the consumer. Micro-franchising will decentralize production and locating raw materials close to both production and retail, thereby eliminating the need to transport agricultural waste and green charcoal. Second, micro-franchising is allowing EFA to quickly respond to growing demand without the fear of copycats. Because the brand is so trusted within the region, EFA is constantly approached by other entrepreneurs who want to set up shop under the EFA logo and model. They are willing to pay a nominal fee in order to be associated with the business. Introducing new cooking technologies in similar contexts can often be met with resistance. For example, with fuel-efficient cook-stoves, the benefits for such an expensive price is unclear to households and has led to minimal uptake. EFA has decided to focus on the fuel source rather than the cooking apparatus. The former does not include huge shifts in individuals cooking habits or in the taste of food (which has proven to be extremely important to users). Charcoal, as seen in the Market Analysis, is central to the majority of the population?s way of life. In order to have quick adoption, any new technology introduced will have to produce the same results with regards to heat output and how long the actual fuel burns. Improving both factors allows households to spend less money on fuel. In field studies carried out by partners Carbon Roots International, green charcoal has proven to burn longer and hotter. Additionally, because thecharcoal is exactly like charcoal made from wood biomass?the only difference is the source of the raw material?and is priced significantly cheaper consumers have showntheir eagerness to replace their previous unsustainable fuel source. They are receiving a higher quality of product for a lower price, and this ultimately motivates them to make the switch. Finally, political insecurity could possibly pose as a risk, but in the last years Uganda has become increasingly politically secure. Most political insecurity stems from a lack of economic opportunity for a country?s residents. EFA is clearly providing huge gains in sustainable economic livelihoods for Ugandan?s most vulnerable populations and thus inadvertently adding to a more stable environment.
Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used
Our approach is influenced by the founder of EFA Moses' experience of his siblings dropping out of school to support in domestic chores like collect fire and the studies carried out by EFA in the two districts in Uganda. some of the community based approaches used to generate information were, focused group discussions, interviews, transect walks, and resource mappings. The findings from this stuy; All families depended on woood for fuel. Only 53% of the 5 to 19 were in school at the time of the study 98% of the families whose daughters were not in school gave poverty and scarcity of wood for their daughters not being in school. As forests dissapperde gils had to drop out of school to support the families gather wood for fuel. Single mothers and widoows were the most affected with some out having of them having the daughters drop out of school to do chores like stone quarrying,prostitution , foreced early marriage. It rfom these finds and the expressed needso the communities that EFA came with this approach.
Climate hazard of concern
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?
Traditional biomass fuels such as charcoal and firewood have a complex relationship with climate change. Using solid biomass fuel usually produces higher greenhouse gas emissions per meal than fossil fuels, kerosene and LPG, even where the biomass fuel is harvested sustainably. This is due to inefficient combustion of the biomass fuel releasing products of incomplete combustion ? such as methane ? which have a greater greenhouse potential than carbon dioxide. However, biomass energy can be a clean, affordable and environmentally friendly source of energy if it is used in an efficient and effective manner. Combinations of solutions are required to meet the differing needs of diverse communities while minimising the environmental impact, as demonstrated below. The approach adapted by EFA , aims at reducing the dependence of households on wood biomass as the main of fuel hence reducing on the destruction the tree cover, it also aims at boasting farmers? incomes as well as conserve or restore soil fertility by use of biochar fertilizers. EFA is also enabling households to save part of their incomes spent on purchase wood charchol by promoting the production of green charchol (briquettes) which costs less in the market place, as compared to the wood charchol. EFA is also purposely aiming at supporting and boasting the educational levels of the girl child, by empowering their mothers/guardians to become micro retailers of EFA green fuel (Briquettes) hence supporting their girls to attend school. In addition EFA uses part of the proceeds got from the briquette sales to tackle the growing problem of deforestation, by promoting the planting of trees. As part of this effort EFA has funded the formation of a club called ?FOR TREES? which works with local schools and communities to replant trees. EFA makes an annual tax deductible donation to this club to enable it keep planting trees. Already, FOR TREES has planted 15,000 trees. EFA has created four micro-franchisees who have replicated our model in their local villages. Each of these micro-franchisees has already created three local jobs and brought clean cooking fuel to at least 50 energy poor households.
How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?
From experience, EFA is confident that, when the growing problem of destruction of the eco system through, deforestation is tackled by, the reduction of cutting of trees for wood biomass, and massive planting of trees is promoted. If an improvement in the land fertility is realised through the use of the biochar fertilizer by farmers; the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes increases, since the tree cover/forests are always key in the formation of rainfall and also act as buffer/wind breakers. Disaster like drought and other changes in weather patterns will not so much destroy the ecosystem, compared to when the same ecosystem is so much stress by human activities like tree cutting, and soil erosion and soil depletion.
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?
According to EFA this approach has enabled many rural farmers in Uganda to access its innovative low-cost and locally made kilns which these farmers use to convert locally sourced biomass into biochar. About 80 percent of this biochar will be sold back to EFA and farmers make at least $30/month from selling biochar to EFA while 20 percent of the biochar is retained by the farmers and used as organic fertilizers in their gardens enabling them to increase their food harvests by over 50 percent. EFA has created women micro-entrepreneurs who sell their clean cooking green charcoal made from biochar. EFA goes to villages, identifies marginalized women, trains them and makes an investment in them by constructing a simple kiosk which they use as a min-retail store in the village. These women are then supplied with green charcoal at credit facilities and they only pay back EFA after they have sold the green charcoal at a profit. EFA?s women micro-entrepreneurs will earn about $152/month in income by retailing EFA?s green charcoal. This is empowering communities and changing lives. These women have been able to send their children to school, and generally take care of their families. Since over 3,500 marginalized households and over 500 small-scale businesses in Uganda are already consistently using EFA?s clean burning fuel briquettes for cooking and heating instead of the expensive and destructive fuel-wood. Users of EFA?s clean burning fuel briquettes save at least $200/year. Additionally, they do not have to worry about indoor air pollution or depleting forests for fuel. This is enabling marginalized girls to concentrate on school, marginalized women now have more time to go to the garden and families spend less on fuel costs and hospital bills. This approach therefore, protects and promotes the well being of the communities as well as the environment/ ecosystem respectively.
How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?
EFA solutions have enabled many households that are using our green fuel to make a lot of saving on their expenditures on fuel. EFA?s fuel briquettes are sold through a network of women micro-entrepreneurs that EFA has created over time. EFA goes to villages, identifies marginalized women, trains them and makes an investment in them by constructing a simple kiosk which they use as a mini-retail store in the village. These women are then supplied with green charcoal at credit facilities and only pay back EFA after they have sold the green charcoal at a profit. EFA?s women micro-entrepreneurs earn about $1,825/year in income by retailing EFA?s clean burning fuel briquettes. This creates local jobs for marginalized women at the base of the pyramid, empowering communities and changing lives. These women are now able to send their children to school, and generally take care of their families. Households also greatly benefitted from the EFA business model. The women sell them to the end user for an average of 53 percent cheaper than the market price for traditional charcoal, mentioned above. In addition as mentioned earlier, the income earned by farmers from the sale biochar and increase in agricultural production as a result of an improvement in the soil fertility has not only boasted the food security status of many households, but added extra incomes to their pockets. These savings from the sale and consumption of the EFA green fuel have helped the households to cushion other shocks that come their way, like the changes in the weather patterns and diseases.
How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?
The increased incomes from the charchol, bio-char fertilizers sale and the savings made as result of using EFA cheaper green fuel. The palnt of trees and improvement in the soil fertility. have greatly built the households resilence to adapt to climate changes.
Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?
In Uganda,regions where EFA is working, EFA has had to quickly prototype different business models to meet some of this demand. The most successful model that allows for rapid scalability, and introduces the lowest risk to EFA is the micro-franchising model. This model empowers more communities in Africa and beyond to replicate the EFA solution in their local communities through a micro-franchising scheme that Because the demand for green charcoal has increased at an exponential rate in the has successfully piloted in four villages in Uganda. EFA conducts their due diligence and partners with other trusted social entrepreneurs, community based organizations, and NGOs and empowers them to do what we have done by establishing a green charcoal production center within their community as well as a women led retail network. As the innovators, EFA provides the training, technology and mentorship to these grassroots entrepreneurs and supports them to build their own local green charcoal businesses. The micro-entrepreneur does not have to pay for anything upfront. They only start paying for the technology and training after they start using the technology to make money. After the technology is paid for, the micro-entrepreneur pays EFA an annual franchise fee of $100 or one percent of their annual profits whichever is higher. In return, EFA incurs the cost of marketing, on-going training and maintenance of the machinery. EFA is looking to partner with a local micro-finance company such as Kiva to help set up loans for the microfranchises so that they can pay off the equipment in a realistic time frame. Each micro franchisee needs at least 25 local farmers with kilns who will supply the char needed by the micro franchisee to make green charcoal. Based off the results of the pilots, EFA estimates that each microfranchise will create 28 local jobs(farmers, retailers, and green charcoal producers) and enable at least 100 local households to access clean cooking fuel as an alternative to fuel-wood, thus enabling young girls to stay in school instead of skipping school to gather wood, reducing deforestation and stabilizing global climate. For the first two years (2014 and 2015) EFAwill create 250 micro-franchises per year and the third year (2016) EFA will aim to have 500 microfranchises. Once the model has proven successful and there is a clear understanding of how to rapidly scale, we will aim to create 1000 microfranchises every year after. Please see below a chart of our expansion plan in Uganda and in other countries throughout sub-Sahara Africa.