By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Gichuki Nuthu is a Certified Public Accountant from Kenya, with big dreams to transform his community. Gichuki is from Kiambu county and currently lives near the country’s largest dumpsite, called Kang’oki.
He shares, ‘When I bought a piece of land here 4 years ago, my plan was to ascertain how I can benefit from waste dumped without raising conflict with the community around who scavenged for valuable things in the dumpsite. The valuables include but are not limited to plastics, metal cans, nylon bags for recycling and stale food which are fed to dogs and pigs. Only a few, if any, were interested in bio garbage from markets, residential and business areas.’
Looking forward, Gichuki has a mission to recycle these materials to help preserve the environment, provide affordable sources of fuel for his community, while also creating good employment opportunities.
In describing how his business got started, Gichuki writes, ‘In the year 2018, I ventured in the recycling of this bio-waste matter including sawdust from sawmills and timberyards, charcoal dust from yards. Towards this, I engaged a local technician who calibrated a local briquette machine that currently produces 6 -25kg bags a day. We sell this at 30.00 Kenya shillings a kilo. These products have a ready market in the neighborhood where clients use briquettes in their homes for cooking, others use them for warming up their chicken broods. Thika sub-county has many chicken rearing farmers. There is also the nearby Nairobi city, Kenya’s capital where a sizable population still depends on charcoal as fuel and we have introduced our briquettes as a substitute to save the forest and environment. We also use some in our kitchen. This has reduced our domestic budget substantially.’
So far, Gichuki notes that he’s also been able to create employment for one person, and hopefully will be able to hire even more people in the future.
Within his extra space, he also does chicken rearing as well. Right now, he has 30 hens for egg production and has plans to grow this part of his business more in the future.
Gichuki notes, ‘We hope to expand the project in preparation for upcoming Easter festivities in April 2021. We plan to add 50 – 3 week old chickens and raise for 3 months when they will be ready for the market.’
Joining Zidisha in mid-2020, Gichuki has successfully raised 4 Zidisha funded loans, ranging from $50 to $709. As he started out with his initial $50 loan, Gichuki purchased bags for packaging the briquettes and used the remainder of the loan for transportation costs.
A month later, in July 2020, with a $112 loan from Zidisha lenders, Gichuki writes, ‘We are in the briquettes production business. The funds will enable us to get more raw materials. The raw materials include charcoal dust, saw dust, red soil and molasses. We will also purchase electricity units which are prepaid for powering up the briquettes processing Machine.’
With his following two loans in August 2020 and January 2021, Gichuki continued to purchase additional raw materials, electricity, labor, and also bought 50 additional chickens and the necessary chicken feed.
Recently, on January 9, 2021, Gichuki shared the below picture with his lenders and wrote, ‘Domestic tourism in Western Kenya during the Christmas festivities-December 2020. Thank you Zidisha as the economic activity you financed in the year enabled this to happen.’
Would you like to make a difference in the life and community of an entrepreneur like Gichuki? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to see what other Zidisha business owners are doing around the world.