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  • Writer's pictureCecilia Wandiga

Kenya Sustainable Cities - Social Enterprise Focused Brainstorming on Sustainable Charcoal

This past Friday (September 21st), Cecilia Wandiga of the CSTI Board was part of a Creating Shared Value panel at Tangaza University College's 2nd Annual Conference on Social Entrepreneurship. Delegates and participants from various African countries shared experiences on the successes and challenges of developing social enterprise ventures in Africa.   

Check out AACOSE (@aacose_org):

Globally recognised Sponsors included 


British Council

More details on sponsors can be found here

Consenus across discussion panels and breakout sessions centred on data (indigenous knowledge, academic research, scientific validation, social enterprise insights) driven collaboration as the way forward for sustainable development in African countries. 

We received way forward instructions from Dr Musheshe:

The need to blend indigenous norms with exogenous practices so that we get an endogenous environment in which the micro-scale social enterprise activities that are an historical tradition across African countries can be transformed into mega-scale commercial ventures. 

- Dr Mwalimu Mushshe, Vice-Chancellor African Rural University and Ashoka Fellow

Following these instructions, in Kenya we can use Community Forest Associations as a social enterprise mechanism. 

Manual on Forming and Registering Community Forest Associations (CFAs)

CSTI received numerous requests for assistance to deliver guidance on how SMEs can turn forest conservation into a sustainable business model.  

Here are some insights to get started while we work on building a plug-and-play model in which SMEs can participate:

Legal Timber: Verification and Governance in the Forest Sector

Page 16 Box 2.1

Risk mitigation:

■ Timber exploitation usually takes place in isolated situations, away from the public gaze, where transgressions are easily missed. 

Q: How can webcam live feeds be connected to a public website that brings a 24/7 public gaze to illegal charcoal sites? 

Business Opportunity:

■ Timber resources are often of unusually high value in local economic terms, such that the benefits gained from transgressing the law may well be superior to any penalties  


Q: How can the high economic gains be redirected towards growing more trees? 

■ Timber exploitation is likely to be one of the more lucrative forms of enterprise in forest-rich societies, and in a form that can be readily liquidated as the occasion demands; this also encourages alliances with the political order (for example, in support of party funding, leading to allegations of ‘capture’ by the industry). 

Q: How can we use blockchain as a green supply chain verification mechanism that reduces the liquidity of illegal charcoal to a maximum of 5% of the prevailing market rate while combining carbon credits and other incentives to reward sustainable charcoal at 5% above the prevailing market rate? 

Social Opportunity:

■ Costs of respecting legality may be high.

Q: What type of public online social status rewards and badges can be given to those who respect legality? How do they transfer their online social status into an improved daily life status? 

■ Forest-dwelling populations are often among the poorest and most marginalised groups in society (paradoxically, given the high value of the resource), and may lack the power – even the authority – to challenge abuses themselves. 

Q: How can forest-dwelling populations be taught to create forests on private lands in a way that they can control the economic benefits to improve their incomes and standards of living? 

■ Poor people may lack choice; illegal logging may provide one of only few options for finding employment and earning an income.

Q: How can we teach commercial fotestry in informal settings so that illegal charcoal harvesters use their skills for legal activities?

Video footage 

Watch "Green Charcoal and Sustainable Fuelwood Production" on YouTube

A model closer to home 

UNDP Uganda - The Green Charcoal Project - Addressing Barriers to Adoption of Improved Charcoal Production Technologies and Sustainable Land Management Practices through an Integrated Approach

For those who feel green charcoal is "too simple" and you cannot build an advanced energy company with this concept, think again. (-: Let us move from carbon neutral to carbon negative... 

Towards a carbon-negative sustainable bio-based economy (2013)

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