Kenya is the biggest economy in east and central Africa, most of the income is due to the agriculture, Re:char is an innovative Kenyan start-up which is supporting subsistence farmers in earning additional income.
The main cash crops grown in Kenya are maize and sugarcane, which can generate an average income of $600-1000/year where 50% of the return would go for buying fertilizers.
Jason Aramburu a research scientist who worked extensively on biochar thought to develop fast and slow pyrolysis systems which was need for hour in Kenyan farm and started Re:char in 2008.
Biochar is manufactured through process known as pyrolysis, where the organic matter such as waste farm produce is heated with absence of oxygen. Instead of releasing carbon dioxide into the air as the matter burns, the carbon is locked away in solid charcoal.
Re:char manufactures a device called a Rutuba kiln (“Rutuba” means ‘soil fertility’ in Kiswahili) which they sell to the farmers at a cost of $25-30 which is usually less than then cost of two bags of fertilizers in Kenya.
The farmers sometimes find it difficult to pay for Rutuba Kiln, in order to overcome this Re:Char has tied up with local micro credit institutions who provide loan which can be repaid whenever farmer gets income. The team is also tied up with m-Pesa to digitalize the payment process.
The kiln should be placed in a pit with an air inlet made from wet mud, the air inlet is adjustable which allows the farmer to control the reaction rate and temperature of the entire process.
The briquette so produced is rich in nutrients which farmer can use as fertilizers for farm or Biochar produced through Re:char can be burned in existing stoves with no modification which also reduces deforestation.
The start-up uses local NGOs and representatives to gain confidence of people which also creating employment for the rural mass.
kenyaThe local Team(website)The Briquettes also has great demand from industries who will buy it as a part of Corporate Social Responsibility as it reduces their carbon emission and help them go ‘carbon-negative’ and promote ‘clean energy’.
This sustainable social start-up is blazing path of a new economy in Kenya by produce their own income while solving important local issues and improving the world while making a profit.