Social Entrepreneur; 2014 Emerging Explorer
Photograph by Dai Kurokawa/EPA
Photograph by Jerry Aronson
Social entrepreneur Sanga Moses has a vision: to provide clean, inexpensive, cooking energy to all Africans while improving socioeconomic outcomes and reversing deforestation. In 2009, he quit his job in a top bank in Uganda to pursue his dream. He worked with engineering students to design kilns and briquetting machines that could turn food waste into fuel. Four years after he founded the social enterprise Eco-Fuel Africa, 2,500 farmers use his kilns, and each earns an average of $30 a month in extra income. His company has created a network of 460 women retailers who each earn about $150 a month from retailing his clean-cooking fuel. More than 19,167 Ugandan households or about 115,000 people now use his clean-cooking fuel on a daily basis and are able to save at least $200 a year in energy costs. Cleaner-burning green charcoal also reduces indoor air pollution, respiratory disease, and medical bills. Instead of spending hours gathering wood, girls can stay in school, and women can grow kitchen gardens or start businesses.
Where were you born?
Where do you currently live?
How did you get started in your field of work?
In January 2009, I traveled from Kampala, where I worked as an accountant in a top bank, to go and visit my mother in my home village in western Uganda. On my way home, I met my 12-year-old sister carrying a heavy bundle of firewood on her head. She had missed school that day and walked for ten kilometers to gather firewood for my family. When my sister saw me, she started crying and told me that she was tired of missing school to gather wood. This troubled me so much because I wanted my sister to stay in school. I immediately decided to quit my secure job with just $500 in savings to totally focus on finding a solution to overdependence on fuelwood in sub-Saharan Africa so that girls like my sister could stay in school. Everyone thought I was crazy!
What has been your most rewarding or memorable experience in your field?
Seeing the progress we have made to date has been very rewarding. Today, we have 2,500 farmers who use our kilns. These farmers earn up to $30 a month each in extra income. We have created a network of 460 women retailers who sell our clean cooking fuel. Each of these retailers earns up to $150 a month in extra income, and over 19,167 households or about 115,000 people now use our clean cooking fuel in Uganda on a daily basis. Given our humble beginnings, the progress we have made so far has been very rewarding.
What's a normal work day like for you?
My normal work day involves meetings with the team, reviewing reports, and meetings with different stakeholders.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Follow your heart.
In Their Words
Burning fuel wood not only destroys Uganda’s trees, but also the health and educational opportunities of our poorest people. We’re giving them an alternative.