Chebet Lesan: Revisiting old cooking technology in Africa

Long before gas cylinders, humans have been cooking with firewood or charcoal. Kenyan entrepreneur, Chebet Lesan, is recognized for creating fuel briquettes from waste material.

This innovation improved cooking mostly for women. Compared to ordinary charcoal and firewood, briquettes burn longer. It’s cleaner, smoke-free, and affordable. 

Beyond making cooking faster, it prevents the frequent cutting down of trees making it eco-friendly. This was the very reason she was inspired to embark on the entrepreneurial journey — producing briquettes from biomass using waste from sawdust or discarded flour which usually get burnt in open air.

The idea gave birth to the company,  BrightGreen. 

How Chebet Lesan’s BrightGreen made briquettes under the brand name MOTO

Chebet Lesan’s BrightGreen made briquettes under the brand name MOTO, which translates to “fire” in Swahili, the most spoken language in Africa.

First, waste materials are carbonised after which a material called char, is pressed into briquettes with three different densities and heat output. 

Briquettes are usually patronized by a large network of women at affordable prices checking their weight. In 2017, over 300 households bought about 100 tons for cooking in Kenya.

Chebet Lesan said:

“Women are the biggest users of cooking energy in households and we are working to bring them into our value chain,”

It became the hot business in town as the food chain heated and expanded to wholesalers, retailers, and to the daily customers.

Chebet Lesan’s bright idea has paved a way for people to gain full time employment producing 1 to 1.5 tonnes daily. 

“We’re learning a lot of lessons along this impact journey and constantly making changes to improve our reach.”

By Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.

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