One major challenge in climate change is deforestation; many developing countries, especially people in rural areas still depend on charcoal and wood for cooking because of the high cost of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG).
In an interview with How we made it in Africa, Nzeyimana explained how he came up with the idea to use the waste in his neighborhoods and communities to make briquettes and pellets as a sustainable replacement for wood and charcoal used for cooking, and also bio-fertilizer for farmers.
The young entrepreneur comes from a small village in Rwanda; a poor, rural community with almost nothing to boast of. Every morning before Nzeyimana left for school, he was tasked with searching for firewood, even though he was very young.
There was no electricity or energy source, except charcoal for cooking. Not only did the adverse effect of cutting down trees for firewood bother him, but the mass of garbage-filled landfills also made him uncomfortable, according to WT.
At age 19, he began to explore healthier ways to solve the problem and managed to generate a solution that would amazingly end both challenges. With an idea in hand, all he needed was funds to bring his vision into reality. He was only a teenager and the economic circumstances around him were not promising.
Unfazed, the young entrepreneur began to tell people about his business and also participated in tech events and competitions to raise funds. His genius idea began to gain traction, and soon enough, he was approached by potential partners from the U.K. and U.S.
With some financial backing, Nzeyimana finally established his company, however, it was difficult to get employees for labor. The locals knew nothing of the industry and the young CEO had to take his time to train them. He shared that his challenge was finding people familiar with the industry – people he could also learn from.
Today, Habona’s biofuels are speculated to be used by approximately 1,500 households in Rwanda.
“Our target market is small and medium enterprises – such as bakeries and other manufacturing businesses – that use wood or charcoal for heating,” Nzeyimana said.
He added that finding clients was a challenge in the beginning because people were still set in their old ways and were reluctant to switch from using wood and charcoal to using Habona’s biofuels to make their meals.
The young achiever has continued to remain successful since he began his business, he was named ‘Top Young Entrepreneur’ in Rwanda in 2014 and received the Africa Innovation Award. Nzeyimana was also named one of Forbes’s 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa.
His biggest moment was sharing the stage with industry giants like Former U.S. President Barack Obama, and the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, at the Global Innovation Summit in 2016.
Jean Bosco Nzeyimans’s idea brought jobs to his community and pushes the movement of sustainable, environmentally friendly living.
He encouraged other young people to invest in agriculture, an untapped sector in Africa, “Young people must recognize the opportunities that farming offers; the first being job creation. Farming has the potential for reducing unemployment among youths.”