Organization helps recycle waste from Ugandan farms
THE SANTA CLARA
February 19, 2014
Sanga Moses, founder of Eco-fuel Africa, was awarded $1 million for using innovative technology to help marginalized women in Africa.
Last week, Moses won Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award, a competition that helps fund organizations that develop technology-based solutions for a variety of global issues.
Moses is a graduate of the Accelerator program at Santa Clara’s Global Social Benefit Institute. The 10-month program offers support to well-established organizations through collaboration with experts in their fields.
Eco-fuel Africa converts ecological waste from farms in Uganda into “green charcoal” briquettes, which are then sold by women in poor communities to individual households. The farmers make money by selling their crop waste, which they prepare using equipment given to them by Eco-fuel Africa. The micro-retailers receive a source of income they would not have otherwise had.
According to Moses, the green charcoal is 60 percent cheaper and burns cleaner and longer than standard charcoal, saving the community members money and protecting them from indoor air pollution. He said Eco-fuel Africa helps 2,500 farmers, 460 micro-retailers and over 20,000 households per day, and he projects extensive growth in the coming years.
In a series of pitches to investors, Moses said he was driven to form the company by a desire to save the environment and offer a secure opportunity of an education to Ugandan children, who are often forced to work at a young age to make ends meet.
“We were thrilled (to hear that he had won),” said Cassandra Staff, program director for GSBI. “Seeing him receive such a high-stakes award is incredibly gratifying, and to see it happen so soon after he came through the program is exciting.”
GSBI provides mentoring and training for social entrepreneurs who seek to provide solutions to poverty.
Through its programs, the GSBI helps organizations develop a business plan, increase their scale and reach of services and connect with investors.
Eco-fuel Africa’s success is not unique to organizations supported by the GSBI.
Since its establishment in 2003, the institute has worked with more than 340 organizations, 90 percent of which are still in business.
Steven White, director of the GSBI’s mentor network and Moses’ mentor in the accelerator program, says that the near-universal benefit of Eco-fuel Africa’s business model makes it unique.
“It’s not a product that solves just one thing,” White said. “If you’re in a place like Uganda, which is overrun with poverty, and you’re helping people live their lives and increase their discretionary income, it’s an amazing thing.”
Moses gives credit to GSBI for its role in Eco-fuel Africa’s development, and said the organization would have struggled without GSBI.
“I will always be grateful to GSBI for all their support,” he said in a Feb. 12 press release. “This will greatly improve our project.”
White said that while Moses’ award may not have a direct effect on GSBI, it will contribute to the global awareness of solutions to poverty.
“I think the GSBI already has a sterling reputation within the social entrepreneurship community,” he said. “The more these kinds of success stories are published, the better off we’ll all be. It pads the momentum of social entrepreneurship as a movement.”
Contact Collin Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.