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We make briquettes in Clay city

Production of briquettes has become a thriving business for a youths group in Clay City, Kasarani.

Maisha Dhabiti Youths Group began with more than 100 members but now they are less than 30 members.

Briquettes are blocks of compressed charcoal dust, used as fuel and are friendly to the environment since they are odourless, burn longer and do not emit smoke.

In the recent past, Maisha Dhabiti Youths Group moved to conserve the environment through tree planting and garbage collection.

Then in March last year, an idea sparkled that they could earn a living from making charcoal without felling trees.

Fight unemployment

With a starting capital of Sh100,000 the group endeavoured to fight unemployment and drug abuse through keeping the youths busy.

“We pooled resources and bought a briquettes making machine with the help of our mentor, Robert Ngugi, which we have been using since then,” said the group’s chairperson, Nahashon Macharia.

Raw materials include coal dust which the group sources from charcoal dealers and water which members say is scarce most times.

“We mix the charcoal dust with water and condense it in the machine before putting the wet briquettes in the ‘green house’ to dry,” said Mr Macharia.

The drying process takes between one and four days, depending on the weather conditions.

On a good day, the group produces up to 30 sacks of briquettes, each weighing 50 kilogrammes. A kilo goes for Sh50, compared to charcoal which retails at around Sh70. 

While ordinary charcoal burns out after an hour, the briquettes keep going for up to four hours thus proving to be a pocket friendly source of fuel. 

Challenges the group has experienced include machine breakdowns and high cost of transport. Some transporters even shun them saying the briquettes will make their vehicles dirty.

Determined to capture the county market and enlighten residents on the advantages of using briquettes, the group has resorted to displaying them at exhibitions and trade fairs.

They are also in the process of getting certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards which will enable them win even bigger tenders.