Rwandan Innovator Turns Trash into Affordable and Environmentally Friendly Products
By Paul Ndiho
U.S. President Barack Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship initiative recently brought five hundred of Africa’s brightest minds to America, to learn new skills and new experiences. Among them was Rwandan born Jean Bosco Nzeyimana. His idea to compost household trash, into cleaner cooking fuel for poor families have won him several international innovation awards.
Twenty-one year old Jean Bosco Nzeyimana is founder and CEO of Habona Limited, a Rwandan start-up trying to address the lack of electricity in his rural village of Kitabi. He is part of a new breed of young African innovators thinking outside of the box.
I have a company back home called the Habona limited. It does a lot of work regarding waste management whereby we collect waste and after collecting waste we use them to produce affordable and environmentally friendly products in form of biomass briquettes. We are also trying to do a lot of work in bio-gas, and also trying to produce fertilizers for farmers.
Jean Bosco’s fascination with Biogas started when he was a young boy- and his vision is to create a biogas plant that can transform organic waste into flammable gas that can be distributed to the local population for their energy needs. He is partnering with the government to collect household trash and compost it into briquettes, which he then sells as a cleaner, cheaper source of cooking fuel for poor families in Rwanda.
I’m passionate about doing this kind of thing because I was affected first hand with this kind of problem. We did not have electricity… So I grew up thinking of what I can do for my family. So, I came up with the idea of taking advantage of waste and using them to produce this kind of fuels that are actually better for the lives of people.
In his village, he’s just regular guy, in fact, very few people know about his innovation that is creating a buzz on the international scene. Jean Bosco was crowned last year as the winner of the African Innovation Prize and also he was also recognized in 2014 as a top young entrepreneur in Rwanda.
“Being recognized as being top young entrepreneur of Rwanda was very, very good for me because it showed me that I am doing meaningful things. It showed me that what I do is really impactful to the community, and it gave me some sense of motivation, to keep moving. When you are recognized in such way you cannot stop. You have to keep moving.
For a rising biogas firm like Habona Limited, partnering with the right people in the business can definitely go a long way as he plans to construct a biogas plant in his native country. While here in the United States, Jean Bosco attended Northwestern University for 6-week. The Sagamore Institute sponsored two YALI fellows including Jean Bosco this summer. Dr. Maavi Norman, a research fellow at Sagamore Institute, and recent graduate of Northwestern University, served as a YALI peer Collaborator.
“Bosco is an amazing gentleman. Since, I met him six weeks ago; he has just shown to be a serious person, very intelligent, diligent and a very charismatic young man. I’m certain that he’s going to make some serious strides in Rwanda and even beyond throughout Africa.”
Despite his early success, the young entrepreneur is focused on perfecting his innovation. He attributes his accomplishment to hard work.
When people look at me they say this young man is successful, they say he’s won a lot of prizes, done this and that… But, for me success to me means – What I do to promote my community, success means working hard at my company by providing services that my people in my community need the most.
Jean Bosco Nzeyimana hopes to use this platform to network and look for potential investors. The full implementation of this project will enable his company Habona to distribute biogas and bio-fertilizer to more than 5000 households.
African technology analysts say Nzeyimana has a great idea with the potential to change the image of Rwandan villages. And for young man whose dreams are big the sky is the limit.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho