Chebet Lesan , Kenya
In late 2015 Chebet founded BrightGreen Renewable Energy to provide a clean alternative to charcoal that can be used to heat homes and businesses in Nairobi. BrightGreen has produced almost 500 tonnes of smokeless briquettes to date, reducing indoor air pollution in over 1,300 homes and saving 80 acres of natural forest. Chebet was inspired to start BrightGreen after noticing the effects of deforestation and learning that Nairobi consumes the largest percentage of charcoal in Kenya, burning 5,000 trees worth of charcoal daily, which is more than the national average number of trees planted per day. Using a team of local artisans and engineers, BrightGreen designed machinery that processes agricultural waste into clean charcoal briquettes which can be sold as a cheaper alternative to traditional charcoal and wood fuel sources. Developing the machinery in-house enabled BrightGreen to employ local experts as well as expand maintenance capabilities. BrightGreen empowers women entrepreneurs to promote and distribute the briquettes in local communities. The briquettes are sold by these distributors in small 1-2kg packs to suit consumption patterns and to ensure that the product is affordable to low income households. Characteristics of the briquettes such as burning time and heat capacity can be altered during the production process, so that the product can be adapted to suit market needs. The briquettes can also be catered to suit the needs of restaurants, hotels and high end supermarkets. After speaking at the One Young World 2017 Bogotá Summit, Chebet connected with Ambassadors from China and the US to share her learnings as well as meeting other Kenyan delegates. Support from her One Young World sponsor Caroline Mutoko significantly widened the marketing reach and visibility of BrightGreen within East Africa. BrightGreen continues to forge partnerships with neighbouring countries including Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Congo Brazzaville to replicate waste to fuel business models and increase availability of green fuels in those regions.