Takachar creates a network of waste management enterprises in Kenya that turn unmanaged agricultural residues into charcoal, a low-cost, non-toxic, and eco-friendly cooking fuel for low-income households. We have developed a series of low-cost (US$20), locally manufacturable technologies to enable waste-to-char conversion, which has been tested and refined in Kenya for the past 3 years. Since 2011, we have set up or directly helped 7 nascent and locally run waste-to-charcoal enterprises in Kenya, some of which have since even demonstrated operational profitability and paying customers. So far we have created about 100 jobs and sold 50 tons of eco-char. Moving forward, we are trying to prove the long-term financial viability of these enterprises, which, if successful, will be the basis of a franchise network.

VMS has been doling out honest and extremely helpful advice to the Takachar team since 2012. Originally, VMS’s comments made us somewhat uncomfortable about our concept and progress at the beginning, but what we slowly realized was that they were trying to get us to address the most important risks in our venture as soon as possible. Their emphasis is on the practical matter of setting something up on the ground that is sustainable, and not necessarily on writing good business plans. We are very grateful for their insights and realistic assessment of our venture and its need at different stages of development.