Last week Acacia Innovations emerged winners at the Start Up Energy (SET) Award in a ceremony held in Berlin, Germany walking away with 10,000 Euros. The award seeks to recognize startups that are tackling climate change with their different innovative products and changing the game in energy transition.
Acacia is in the business of making affordable modern and clean cooking fuel and cook stoves for schools in Kenya. Corresponding to the UN Sustainable Development Goal Number 7, it contributes to providing sustainable energy for all, while also decreasing pollutants by using briquettes made of sugar cane waste. For this commitment, Acacia was selected as the 2018 SET Award winner for the Special Prize category under SDG7.
Speaking after receiving the award, the founder Elana Laichena noted that there is need to sensitize more people to transition to alternative energy sources and conserve the forest cover for future generation. The event was a culmination of the Tech Festival which is held annually includes pitching from the award finalists, exhibitions, investor matchmaking, corporate challenges, accelerator show cases among others.
The company targets schools, hospitals, hotels, factories and bakeries. Their briquettes known as Kuni Safi are made from sugar cane waste and every tonne of the briquettes used saves 25 trees.
Earlier this year, the government effected a 90-day ban on the production and sale of charcoal. This has greatly affected many households and businesses that heavily rely on the commodity for cooking and heating their homes. Following the directive, hundreds of traders ferrying the now rare commodity have been arrested and the charcoal impounded. As much as this is a step in the right direction in as far as conserving the forest cover goes, the government should have been in the fore front in providing alternative energy solutions to the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on charcoal.
Laichena noted that there is a lot of resistance to the unknown since the briquette concept is yet to be embraced fully and adopted as a ready source of clean energy.
“We have to do a lot of the marketing ourselves to convince the target market that briquettes are a better alternative both environmentally and socially,” she said. Since its inception in 2016, the company has sold briquettes to over 170 institutions. Early this year, they launched a pilot for their kuni safi cook stove.
Acacia Innovations is the largest supplier of clean cooking fuel for schools and small businesses in Kenya. Other winners at the event included lonomr Innovations Inc, For City, Coolar UG, Skeleton Technologies and SOLHO BV.