Bringing charcoal briquette producers together to become more informed ambassadors for sustainable fuels
MIT D-Lab worked with The Charcoal Project to host a five-day convening for a small group of charcoal briquette producers. The Advancing Sustainable cHarcoal Enterprises at Scale (AScHES) convening was held in Naivasha, Kenya from October 1 to 5, 2018.
In communities around the world, entrepreneurs are producing fuel briquettes from waste as an alternative to wood-derived charcoal. With many organizations involved, there is a need to coordinate and formalize as a sector. Some organizations struggle with challenges that others have succeeded in overcoming. However, there are few opportunities for exchanging approaches and experiences, and there is a need for alignment in measuring and reporting impact to attract more support for this sector.
Through the convening and the community that forms, we intend to strengthen the charcoal briquette sector by bringing people together to become more informed ambassadors for sustainable fuels, with knowledge and inspiration for advancing their technology and business, and to cultivate a community of practice so that briquette businesses can be more sustainable and communities can be served with better products.
Goals of AScHES
- Cultivate the community of at-scale charcoal briquette producers for an exchange of knowledge and best practices and formation of new partnerships.
- Equip charcoal briquette producers to be more informed micro-ambassadors for a formalized and connected industry.
- (Re)Inspire charcoal briquette producers with new ideas and tools for alternative business models, entrepreneurship skills, leadership skills, and production methods.
Program and Participants
At AScHES 2018, participants co-designed our community of practice. A community of practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. The AScHES community intends to gather regularly, to share information in response to our community's needs, including facilitated sharing of new advances, best practices, guest speakers, and updates from working groups. Participants to bring new ideas to the table that unify the community of practice and provide more producers with access to knowledge. The convening catalyzed useful collaborations and initiatives between participant organizations as well as with MIT D-Lab and the Charcoal Project.
Findings from AScHES Participant Survey
Three key findings from the pre- and post-surveys
1. Above all, participants valued the community of practice fostered by ASChES.
- Before the convening, participants had connected with just three other participating organizations. After the convening, participants planned to follow up with an average of 13 other organizations.
- 100% of participants intend to stay active in the community of practice after the event.
"The togetherness and sharing of ideas between participants was amazing.” - Charity Ogeto, Sinoka Bioenterprise Cooperative Society Ltd (Kenya)
2. Participants prioritized – and took advantage of – the unique opportunity to gain technical knowledge specific to the alternative fuel industry.
- Participants ranked fuel technology and production as the most important knowledge area to improve and the most valuable topic featured at the event. This is also the area in which participants reported the greatest improvement in knowledge.
- After the event, 94% of participants planned to apply technical skills learned at the event, and 89% planned to implement quality control measures to improve their projects.
“I gained immense insight into production, drying and [am] very motivated going forward.” - Said Twahir, Kencoco Ltd (Kenya)
3. Participants felt that the event was responsive to their needs for business skills.
- Participants also ranked financing, distribution, and marketing as highly important knowledge areas to improve, and they reported substantial gains in knowledge in all three areas.
- After the event, 89% of participants plan to implement business skills learned at the event, 78% planned to leverage social media marketing to reach new clients, and 56% planned to take steps to access new capital.
“Am so happy to be part of this family. I will be willing to offer any support in my ability for any entrepreneur that may be in situation I can help.” - David Nkwanga, Adapt Plus Ltd (Uganda)
How can I be involved in AScHES if I could not attend the convening?
If you are unable to attend the AScHES convening, we would still like to keep you involved and updated in the community of practice. Please send an email to the address below and we will add you to the listserve.