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Kenya’s Ace Development creating pocket and eco-friendly briquettes

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Ace Development is a Kenyan-based startup ran by a group of entrepreneurial university students. The companys main objective is to produce and supply sustainable, renewable and green energy in the form of biomass briquettes made from waste such as char-dust and agricultural produce husks. Ace Development spoke to TechMoran about how they are working towards achieving this goal.

Tell us about yourselves; your team, your educational and professional backgrounds?
The Ace Development Team is led by its founder, Cecil Chikezie, a third-year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Nairobi. The team consists of five employees (2 are full-time while 3 are part-time). Cecil was awarded the Royal Commonwealth Society Associate Fellowship because of his work by virtue of the company. He is also a Fellow of the Advancing Leaders Fellowship.

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How would you best describe Ace Development, what does it do?
Ace Development is better known as a leader in producing and supplying sustainable, renewable and green energy in the form of biomass briquettes made from waste such as char-dust and agricultural produce husks. We are directly contributing to three Sustainable Development Goals by producing carbon-neutral affordable energy that reduces our carbon-footprint while conserving our forest cover. Furthermore, we are actively participating in the climate-smart technology sector, in addition to agri-business, in form of cultivation.

Tell us about some of your products: Eco Makaa in particular.
“Eco Makaa”, our main products, are briquettes made from carbonized agricultural refuse as well as char-dust. They are sustainable fuel sources with a high calorific value that burn for around 3 hours are smokeless and non-sparking. In view of their use in cooking and heating, they are a sustainable replacement of wood charcoal which has had its prices rocketing as a consequence of unavailability and middlemen.

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What market gap did you spot that motivated you to start this company?
Kenya has experienced climate-change-related drought with 3.2 million Kenyans starving. This has been coupled with flash floods such as that seen at Solai which led to 44 unfortunate deaths. Logging for firewood and charcoal has largely contributed to such adverse weather patterns. Our biomass briquettes are eco-friendly fuel sources that are able to supplant charcoal. This is in view of Kenya’s decision to ban logging as it seeks to reassess the forest sector. We highly recommend “Eco Makaa” to Kenyans who desire efficient green fuel.

Who is your target market?
Kenyan homes, hotels, and various institutions, as well as factories, are our target market. We have quickly expanded to supplying various 5-star hotels within Nairobi and hope to be the main source of energy in Nairobi within the next two years.

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How does your company make money, what are your revenues so far?
The company obtains its revenue from the distribution of “Eco Makaa” mainly within Kenya. We broke even in the first three months after an initial investment on various machines and materials used in the particular and well-researched fabrication of “Eco Makaa”.

Who would you say is your major competition in this space at the moment?
Wood charcoal is definitely our main competition, especially seeing that it has been the main source of energy which has contributed to reduction of forest cover from 12 percent before independence to 7.5 percent currently. People are however accepting of a new product if it is efficient, and that is why we project market domination in the long run.

What is your vision for the company in the next 5 years?
We believe that the company’s “Eco Makaa” will be a household name, having replaced wood charcoal and achieved market domination in the next few years. Ace Development hopes to expand its market share throughout Africa’s 5 regions, with the option of exportation weighing heavily on our minds.

What advice would you give upcoming entrepreneurs?
Coming up with a viable business idea is the most grueling process of your entire journey. However, it is also the most important. A business should not be started on the basis of being a money-making scheme, but a response to a current need in the market. Don’t sell what you’d want; sell what “they” need.

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