Meet Lazarous Siwelwa

Q: What is Virgin Green Renewable Energy Limited about?

Virgin Green Renewable Energy Limited is a Zambian social enterprise makes charcoal briquettes from biomass wastes generally agriculture wastes and biodegradable municipal wastes. We are also promoting energy efficiency through the production of improved energy saving cook stoves that uses less fuels and reduces emissions by 35%.

These products are sold to low-income households’ kitchens and business kitchens who uses charcoal and firewood through women and youths who own roadside kiosks and shops across urban cities of Zambia.

Q: What inspired you to start?

In 2015 when I was at the university, my grandmother was diagnosed with a lung infectious disease of which eventually, she died with the same problem in 2017. I could not comprehend when the doctor told me that my grandmother had died because of smoke. My grandmother never smoked cigarettes, so I began to research and through my research that is when I found out that at least 4 million people every year in sub-Saharan Africa have lost their lives due to exposure to dirty fuels like charcoal and firewood.

I also found out that Zambia with a small population of just 18 million people is ranked number one and five in Africa and the world respectively with regards to deforestation. This is because more than 90% of the population uses firewood and charcoal as the only affordable energy for cooking. So, virgin green renewable energy was birthed to help save lives and save our natural forests.

Q: How would you say this solution is impacting the lives of Zambians?

Zambia is constantly loosing between 250k to 300k of natural forest because the 90% of the country’s population that uses charcoal and firewood, use inefficient cook stoves that allows an average family to consume one tonne of lump charcoal and firewood annually. But with improved energy saving cooking stoves like ours, cooking consumption will be reduced by 50%. This would allow end users to save $200 per year.

Q: Number of beneficiaries since inception?

Virgin Green Renewable Energy Limited is currently serving an average of over a 100 customers per month. We have also provided employment to 67 part time workers who source raw materials for us.

Q: What is unique about your enterprise?

For us it is beyond profits. Our commitment to improving lives is tightly woven in our business strategy. Our effort is helping to promote a circular economy and keep our cities clean. Our products are economical and affordable to low-income families who can’t use LPG gas and electricity to cook, but rather rely on charcoal and firewood. We offer a sustainable and inexpensive product that is helping to protect lives and our environment.

Click on the link below to find out more about Virgin Green Renewable Energy Limited.

Sahara Group Foundation

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