Moses Sanga Fellow 2011
Living in: Uganda — Uganda
Venture: ECO-FUEL AFRICA
stopping deforestation is our business
Operating in: Sub-Saharan Africa
Impact Area: Agriculture, Clean and Green Technology, Climate Change,...
"Obsessed with stopping deforestation in Africa and combating climate change. "
Describe yourself briefly.
Imagine an African young man who was born and grew up in one of the poorest villages in the world, first put on shoes at age 13, first saw television at age 15, was the first graduate in his entire clan having a dream of providing 40 million Africans with affordable clean energy and planting at least a quarter of a billion trees by 2020! The name of this young man is Moses Sanga, the founder and CEO of Eco-fuel Africa (www.eco-fuelafrica.com)
Moses is a passionate African social entrepreneur who does not take no for an answer! He is obsessed with stopping deforestation and combating climate change and believes that this generation has an obligation to preserve nature for current and future generations. He has also started six other social ventures in Uganda in the last 11 years. Three of these have succeeded and in total employ over 120 people in Africa.
Moses is a graduate of Business Administration and a mentor to many in his native country, Uganda.
Describe your Unreasonable Venture in 100 words or less.
Eco-fuel Africa is a social enterprise determined to eradicate over dependence on wood-fuel in Sub-Saharan Africa by making organic charcoal from agricultural waste. The company uses its proceeds to plant trees in Africa. The target is to plant at least a quarter of a billion trees by 2020.
We work with women groups, youth groups and rural farmers. We train these groups and individual farmers how to make char powder from agricultural waste and supply them with locally made kilns. We then buy the char powder from them and it’s what we use to make organic charcoal. This is creating incomes for millions of poor people mainly in rural Sub-Saharan Africa.
Our main means of transport is bicycles. We employ many young energetic men to transport our charcoal on bicycles to markets and to our network of distributors. We specifically look-out for young men employed in wood-charcoal production and offer them jobs in our company. This is creating many alternative green jobs and is reducing pressure on African forests.
Also, our charcoal is distributed mainly through a network of small-scale retailers mainly made of poor women and youths. We train our distributors and equip them wit
Describe your relevant experience (especially entrepreneurial).
I started my first business in 1999 with just $ 200. I have also started six other ventures in Africa in the last 11 years. These include a solar retail business, a publishing company, a rural computer training school to mention but a few. Three of these have succeeded and in total employ over 120 people.
Second, I have a degree in business administration. I also received training in organic charcoal making from National Council of Science and Technology in Uganda. This gave me technical skills in making organic charcoal from waste.
Third, all my team members are young and dynamic professionals with vast experience in entrepreneurial social ventures in Africa. But our greatest assets are: determination and sense of purpose! When we were starting this venture, we made a decision that we won’t quit no matter what! We are ready to pay the price because we believe it’s our responsibility to stop deforestation in Africa and to do something about the threat of climate change!
Why is your team uniquely qualified to run this venture?
We have a well-rounded team with the following skills:
Advisory: Mr. Tushemeirerwe Richard who has a master’s degree in chemistry and currently works as an advisor to the President of the Republic of Uganda on issues of Science and Technology is the head of our advisory board. Richard also has over 10 years experience in renewable energy projects.
Management team includes:
Mr. Ben Tandekwire who has a degree in developmental studies and formerly worked as a renewable energy coordinator for an international NGO in Uganda is our operations manager.
Our Accountant is Mr. Peter Mulinda who has a degree in accounting and worked for 4 years as an accountant with a local microfinance institution.
However, our greatest assets as a team are self drive and persistence. All of us are determined to keep dreaming no matter what! Although it’s incredibly hard to be an entrepreneur in Africa, quitting is not an option for us! We’re here to win and you better join us!
What is the urgent social or environmental need you're addressing?
According to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, over 80% of Sub-Saharan Africans depend on fuel wood. As a result, Africa is losing 4 million hectares of forest each year. At this rate, Africa will have no forests left by 2052. Also, as forests disappear, fuel wood is becoming hard to find. Now children especially girls in Africa are dropping out of school to help their families find fuel wood. For example, in January, 2009, I traveled to my village to visit my mum, on my way home, I met my half-sister carrying firewood on her head and I was shocked to discover that she had missed school to go and buy the firewood in a town 10 kilometers away from home. Over dependence on wood-fuel is also worsening the effects of climate change and leading to desertification.
What is your solution to this need? Describe your business strategy.
At Eco-fuel Africa, we empower local communities in Africa to use our tailor-made technology to convert locally sourced farm and municipal waste into clean cooking fuel and organic fertilizers. This helps to solve a myriad of issues, including slowing the rate of deforestation, reducing indoor air pollution by substituting smoky wood with cleaner-burning fuel, improving educational opportunities among girls and women by eliminating the need to collect wood for cooking, and reducing malnutrition by enabling farmers with access to organic fertilizers.
Convince us it will work. What milestones have you achieved?
Launching in 2010 with only $500, Eco-fuel Africa has already brought clean cooking fuel to over 3,500 energy poor families in Uganda, created over 1,500 jobs and re-planted over 12,000 trees in Uganda.