By Socrates Mbamalu
Leroy Mwasaru is just 20, but the young innovator has already made great achievements, recently named on the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list in the Business category. Leroy founded Greenpact just after completing high school, and now looks forward to playing a huge role in the renewable energy sector in Kenya.
Leroy Mwasaru is just 20 years-old, and was the youngest entrepreneur named on the recently released Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list in the Business category. Leroy founded Greenpact, “a company which produces and distributes affordable and high-quality innovative biogas digester systems to get bio-gas from both agricultural and human refuse,” Forbes Africa magazine reported.
Commenting on being named on the Forbes Africa list, Mwasaru wrote on Twitter, “Humbled and honored to grace this year’s class of #ForbesAfricaunder30 in the Business category for the work we do with parent company, @Greenpactke. Also as the youngest honoree at 20. The journey continues”.
Leroy started his company after he finished high school. In 2016, he was part of those chosen for the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) programme. According to the foundation, “Leroy Mwasaru started Greenpact when his school faced a problem of a faulty sewer system. The sewer problem polluted nearby sources of domestic water for the neighboring community, sparking a demonstration against the school”.
“In a bid to provide solution to this problem, Leroy and his classmates created a human waste bioreactor that utilized both human and organic waste to produce Biogas and organic fertilizer. Leroy’s prototype currently powers the school and this idea won them the first prize for invention through Innovate Kenya(an idea competition amongst high school students),” the Foundation noted.
Since winning the Innovate Kenya prize, Leroy has been invited for several programmes outside Kenya, including being an Audi scholar for One Young World. In 2016 he was selected as part of the Harvard Social Innovation Collaborative Global trailblazers, where he represented Kenya at the Igniting Innovations Summit at Harvard University.
Greenpact has made Leroy a millionaire, and the young entrepreneur hopes to carve a niche in Kenya’s renewable energy sector, and eventually pursue opportunities in east Africa. In a statement on TEF, “Greenpact, by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2019 hope to serve a larger market and explore other forms of renewable energy like solar”. With countries such as Rwanda and Uganda ready to adopt renewable energy, there are boundless opportunities for young innovators on the continent.
It’s not a very appetising idea, but students in Kenya have found a way to cook their school’s food with poop.
Pit toilets, which are basically holes in the ground, are the most common type of toilet across rural Kenya. Of course, they’re not the most hygienic option – with the system often getting backed up and also contaminating nearby waterways. And, as you can imagine, it also smells pretty awful.
At the Maseno School, a teenage student decided to do something about it, and came up with the ingenious ideas of turning the school’s sewage into biogas that could power the kitchen. Previously, the food was cooked using wood fires, which filled the building with toxic black soot and also used up precious wood resources.
“My inspiration was drawn from the pressing demand for a clean, renewable sustainable source of fuel,” Leroy Mwasaru, the 17-year-old student who led the project, told Adele Peters at Co.Exist. “In the African continent we have lots of resources that masquerade as ‘waste’.”
Mwasrau and a group of fellow students started researching biodigesters, which are chambers underground that collect human waste and use microorganisms to turn that waste into a renewable fuel.
“We were out to make ours more flexible and better,” Mwasaru told Peters.
They entered their idea into Innovate Kenya, a national competition that aims to empower Kenyan youth to solve challenges in their communities, and ended up winning enough money to build two prototypes.
They’re now using the second version to collect waste from the school’s toilets, as well as the school’s cattle, and then turn it into biogas that’s fed straight into the shoal’s kitchen.
They’re also working on filtering urine out of the process, as it makes it less efficient, and eventually want to scale up the device so that it can process the waste of all 1,200 students at the school. This will cost around US$85,000, but it can hopefully save that much in fuel savings.
The team also hopes to create a smaller version that works in houses and can also be used around the country to help improve sanitation as well as provide a sustainable fuel source.
See a diagram of their set-up below:
First Published by All Africa