In 2007, a group of widows and orphans in Nyarugenge District invested everything they had into a biomas energy project without any prior experience in the environmental friendly technology. They were merely garbage collectors.
However, it was not long before they realized the potential to expand their incomes and to improve the families’ wellbeing.
They started to apply techniques of converting garbage into biomas energy. Three years on, members of the Cooperative pour la Conservation de l’ Environment (COOCEN), have a lot to show for their innovation, as we reported yesterday. They are reaping from their collective hard work, consistence and commitment.
The cooperative has already started competing for tenders to supply their locally made briquettes, which are much cheaper and more effective than charcoal. The group is now exploring the most appropriate ways of marketing their product, an ideal alternative to firewood and charcoal whose continued use constitute an environmental concern.
There’s a lot to learn from COOCEN members. They hold no degrees, and money was not their main capital when they started. Their greatest asset was working together and thinking outside the box. Then, they acquired the necessary hands-on skills to kick start their innovation.
There’s a lot we can do to make a difference. And it starts from what we have at the moment. Most of us are seated on goldmines which we just need to exploit. There’re lots of opportunities all around us, but only those who will think outside the box will grab them. The experience of COOCEN is uplifting and it serves as an indication that a knowledge-based economy is, after all, achievable.