Briquette production has been an integral part of Sanata for the last two and a half years. The project was officially started on August 2011. Six months that followed were mainly on researching for a proper recipe with characteristic such as high calorific value (heat content), longer burning time and no/less smoke emitting briquettes.
This research entailed a national wide data collection where we briquetted different types of biomass, soils and waste materials. This resulted to samples that had worse properties similar to those of a tear gas.
“….I remember one Tuesday morning where I was so excited to have finally briquetted a sample that had a tiny flame with a red amber, a smaller executive demonstration at SANCHAT’s office was the only thing on my mind.
These were the demo results:
a) A smoke-filled office with an impaired visual for its occupants.
b) A new and compulsory body essence line for all, my goodness the office literally smelled like a cow-shed.
c) Mary’s eyes were filled with tears and she was coughing uncontrollably unable to call the demos off.
This remains one of the best memories so far.” (Kelvin- Manager Briquette Project).
On the 21st of February 2012, the Sanata Trust trained its group of 10 youth on briquetting. The training lasted for four days, providing our students with 30 hours training experience. This meant each student was given roughly 7 hours of training per day. This was undertaken from the 21st – 24th of February 2012.
During the four days, the students followed a timetable of training classes:
- 8am – 9am: Theoretical understandings of Briquette Production
- 9am – 1pm: Practical Training in Briquette Production
- 1pm – 2pm: Lunch Break
- 2pm – 3pm: Practical Training in Briquette Production
- 3pm – 5pm: Recapping theory, understanding how it’s been used in the practical
The Theoretical part of the training involved tutorship in the following areas:
- How to use the tools needed for Briquette Production
- How to process Briquettes
- How to ensure conservation of the environment whilst making Briquettes (i.e. which materials could be harmful for the environment if used in large quantities.)
- The Benefits of the Briquettes
- The ways to handle waste products without causing harm to oneself (i.e. Overalls, Gloves etc.)
The students easily learnt all that was taught during the training and quickly put their knowledge into producing their own briquettes to be sold to the Gilgil community. In the last few days we produced over 250 briquettes, which were distributed to key targets/potential clients, free of charge. This was a way of publicizing the product and demonstrating to the overall community the power of the usage of this alternative source of cooking fuel.
Production commenced immediately after the training as Sanata intended to provide different charcoal sellers in Gilgil, as well as supermarkets, institutions, hotels and smaller local stores, with Briquettes as a new product to sell to the community.
2012 saw the department secure a 7 tonnes order from the Governors Camp at Maasai Mara, this led to us expanding our task force to an approximate of 30 youth. The positive growth experienced within the department, has resulted in many market-oriented strategies such as:
- Outsourcing of raw materials
- Need to mechanize our production
- Increase in our labour force
- Systems to lock-in potential and existing customers
- Adding up of intra-departments
- Establishing outreach programs and project satellites
Also the SANCHAT team under the steer of Peter Abala Ndolo the trust coordinator and Kelvin Karuggah the briquette project director paid a visit to Chemelil Sugar Company with two things in mind:
- Bagasse-sugar cane remnants
- Briquetting electrical machine
The department also extended its search for more youths from the IDP camps (Internally displaced persons), to be trained and join our task force. Also the department trained a group of 20 youth from Kangemi slums in Nairobi through an organization called Hamomi.
Our Briquettes were tested at Nairobi University for calorific value and found to burn with the same heat as firewood and recognized as the best Briquette to ever have been tested by the University. This boosted our marketing and sales.
The following year 2013 proved a success as we finally had our recipe legally protected and currently we are patent pending. The same year saw our customer base expand to accommodate Jai Jalaram Temple in Nairobi and several hotels such as Blixen camp and Kicheche located in Maasai Mara, Eagles Point and Sunbird Lodge at Lake Elementaita-Gilgil, institutions such as Egerton University and children’s homes. This ensured us a constant supply of 5 tonnes per month.
The same year the department enjoyed a lot of publicity through written, visualized and communicated mediums such as shujaa magazines, trade fairs and video coverage.
A new product, the fueletts was designed and launched to serve the larger population of households and barbecues. Compared to charcoal the product is cheaper with a difference of Kshs 30 per kilogram, burns longer with a burning time of between 1 hour to 4 hours dependin with conditions unlike charcoal that burns for 40 minute per a kilo and very hot. Fueletts are also our key products to venture into supermarkets and chain-stores.
The year 2014 started at higher note as we launched a marketing strategy for over 20 learning institutions within our location (Gilgil District). A greater percentage of the schools are so interested in our products and have promised to place an order once the academic term is fully on course. So far we have carried out demos and secured one tonne order in less than a week.
2014 is our year of growth as we have developed a product for industries with more enhanced properties than the normal firewood that runs their boilers. Also we have identified a company to supply us with the needed machinery for our eco-logs.
Currently we have a pending order of 100 tonnes per day from an industry in Nairobi; this is a capacity to fuel only a single boiler within 24 hours. The said industry operates five boilers in total!
Below is a monthly worksheet of people approximately reached directly/indirectly by the project.
- Permanent Employees 8 (7 Male and 1 female)
- Casuals / Assistants / Seasonal workers 25
- Suppliers of Chardust, paper, transportation, etc. 25
- Persons trained by Sanchat Briquette Team 160 (72 male and 88 female)
- Families of workers impacted by Briquette Project (indirectly) 300
- Jalaram temple feeding program 1000
- Sanata Restart 100
- Blixen camp 200
- Eagles point 100
- Sunbird lodge 200
- Egerton University 100
- Malewa lodge 100
- Locals-Gilgil 200
- Utumishi schools 650