In March this year, the government placed a ban on logging and charcoal burning in a move aimed at conserving the country’s forests.
The effects of the ban were immense; charcoal prices soared and users started paying heavily. But for Angus Mwakio, this presented a business opportunity. He started making briquettes from charcoal chips, saw dust and molasses.
Enterprise met Mr Mwakio, busy at his work place at Majaoni-Msikitini, in Utange village, Mombasa County. “My venture is a simple; making use of charcoal chips that have been littering our streets, mix them with saw dust, add molasses as a binder and grind them,” he says.
“I then add water to my mixture and poor the raw product into the grinding machine. In a span of five minutes, I am able to make about 20 charcoal briquettes.”
Mr Mwakio says that although the business is yet to reach its potential, he relies on the few customers who frequent his kiosk at Majaoni Msikitini.
“I am currently depending on my local customers but I am in the process of building my clientele outside this village. I have started to build business networks and soon I expect to make a breakthrough. I have even started getting some orders outside this village,” he says.
He notes that the returns are also encouraging.
“In a good day, I can make up to Sh3,000, that is if I sell about two sacks, since a 50-kilogramme sack goes for Sh1,500. I sell a kilo for Sh30,” he says.
For every one 50kg sack, he gets a profit of Sh1,000, after deducting Sh500, the cost of making the briquettes.
Mr Mwakio says his briquettes is ideal for cooking.
“First of all, my charcoal can burn for three hours. It does not produce smoke as well, making it user-friendly,” he says adding that he is enjoying every bit of what he is doing as he has always wanted to venture into the world of business.
“It was my dream to own a business and when the government announced ban on charcoal trade, I went to search online on how to make briquettes,” he says.
“I took about a month researching and gathering different views from experts on the viability of the business. When I was convinced that everything would work for me, I spent Sh100,000 to buy the machine and another Sh50,000 to set up the place and buy raw material.”
He added: “ I want to tell the youths to stop lamenting about lack of jobs because one can start his or her own enterprise and grow it to bigger heights.”