“In Thyolo District the South of Malawi, a project supported by the Rotary International Foundation, the Rotary Club of West Five and the Limbe Rotary Club and implemented by local NGO Renew’N’Able Malawi (RENAMA), is working with lady entrepreneurs to introduce briquettes to the area. Like many other areas, Thyolo District, densely populated and on the outskirts of Blantyre, is heavily deforested due to over-reliance on tree biomass for energy.
The “Smart Energy Hub” run by Milca M’mame and Grace Dixon is based in Dzungu Village, T/A Bvumbwe. One of the main aims of the project, apart from creating sustainable livelihoods and new income sources for the involved entrepreneurs, is to reduce the use of charcoal and increase the awareness and uptake of alternative cooking fuels by introducing briquettes and energy efficient cookstoves to the surrounding communities.
RENAMA has thus provided start-up support to the two ladies, who are responsible for making the briquettes. The support has come in the form of training, research &development facilitation during the process of testing and comparing different raw material mixtures, equipment like the briquette press, initial inputs and advice on how they can grow and manage their business to make it a sustainable entity.
The briquettes are made with a mix of sawdust, waste paper and charcoal dust in different proportions. So far, M’mame and Dixon have been producing more than 3000 briquettes of different mixtures which are now being tested, compared and test-marketed to develop the optimum product which people would be ready to use instead of charcoal as it would give them better efficiency, cleanliness, ease of transport due to lighter weight, and cost savings.
The ladies are meanwhile able to produce more than 300 briquettes a day using a locally made, manual low-cost press that does not depend on electricity. If the project concept proves successful, the RENAMA team and financial supporters will look into the possibility to help the entrepreneurs with acquiring a more efficient mechanic briquette press for higher volume production.
Once the research and marketing testing phase will be over, the plan is that the briquettes as well as locally made efficient briquette stoves made by a collaborating tinsmith, will be sold in the Bvumbwe market and by other agents in the community.
We will keep you updated on the progress of this exciting start-up initiative.”