6 February 2013

Kenya: Takachar Issued With Ksh 1.7 Million Orange Social Venture Cheque

The Takachar team - which emerged second overall during the 2012 Orange Africa Social Venture competition - has been issued with their Kshs 1.74 million (Euros 15,000) prize cheque to enable the team expand the project into other locations.

Takachar provides an innovative system to improve waste management by using telecoms technologies to track waste collection in real time.

The project is already operational and enables cooperatives to operate more efficiently by increasing the proportion of organic waste that can be transformed into charcoal. The project works with local cooperatives of waste-pickers in urban slums to bring solid waste management to Nairobi, Kenya, while generating charcoal from organic waste.

"Current waste management through waste-picking cooperatives is at best faltering because there is a lack of incentive for poor households to turn in their waste (for a fee). Takachar's incentive-based waste collection scheme will mobilize the entire slum in turning in its waste, and not just the few households that can afford to pay for garbage pick-up," said Takachar's Kevin Kung.

Takachar utilises ICTs by implementing mobile-phone-based tracking tags that use GPS and CDMA cell-tower triangulation to track the routes of waste-pickers real-time on a web-based mapping platform. This in turn exposes the spatial organization of waste management, which will help the cooperatives expand their areas of coverage efficiently.

The project has so far been implemented in slum areas where waste management is virtually non-existent, contributing to environmental/health hazards, as well as greenhouse emissions from decomposing organic waste.

The project, started through a pilot program in Rumuruti, Laikipia district in January 2012 and later expanded to Kibera, Nairobi in Augusts 2012, purchases organic waste from the cooperatives to be processed into energy products such as charcoal.

It was started with an investment of US $ 50,000, (Kshs 4.35 million) with a return on investment expected after 3 years. It has the potential of being replicated in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, has already been implemented in several slum settlements around Nairobi, where waste management is virtually non-existent, contributing to environmental/health hazards, as well as greenhouse emissions from decomposing organic waste.

The Takachar team is made up of young individuals drawn from universities in Kenya and in the United States, keen on environmental preservation and community development. Takachar's social impact includes tripling the income of cooperative groupings, managing 20 tonnes per week of organic waste, mitigating 8 tonnes per day of equivalent greenhouse emissions, as well as saving 700 trees a year.

A huge number of entries - 45 out of 437 - were submitted to the Orange Africa Social Venture Prize were from Kenya; the second highest number of applications from an individual country, translating to slightly over 10% of the total entries, that are drawn primarily from the 18 Orange affiliates in Africa.

Two other Kenyan projects also made it to the initial shortlist: Njorku Kenya, a job search engine for those seeking to be employed in Kenya and Sasa Africa, an e-commerce platform that enables craftswomen to engage more effectively with a global customer base.

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