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The seed funding of 25,000,000 CFA francs received by Green Business Consulting under the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Security Nexus Acceleration Programme) has enabled the start-up to transition from small-scale to semi-industrial production. Its new production line is currently being installed on private land acquired with the support of the government of Niger.
Green Business Consulting has now a production site in Saga, in the green region of the country, just a few kilometres from the Niger River. This strategic location brings the start-up closer to the collectors of the raw materials it uses (water hyacinth and typha) and the consumers of its products (farmers and rural households). This close proximity significantly reduces the cost of transporting raw materials and finished products and helps to increase the start-up's profit margin.
Equipment acquired for scaling up
As part of its expansion plans, the start-up has hired staff for its new production line. The number of employees increased from twelve to 17 employees (seven temporary and ten permanent). Idrissa Abdou Zakari, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the start-up, explains, "This fund has completely transformed Green Business Consulting. We've evolved from small-scale production to semi-industrial production. Today, we have an industrial carboniser with a capacity of 700kg per hour, briquette presses with a capacity of one tonne per hour, straw grinders (two tonnes per hour) and a pellet machine (150kg per hour). This new equipment will increase our production capacity and enable us to bring to market higher quality products that meet international standards".
Instead of traditional carbonisation, the industrial carboniser that Green Business Consulting acquired enables uniform carbonisation of the raw materials used inthe manufacturing process. Moreover, most other operations, which used to be done manually, have also been mechanised. Water hyacinth, typha and rice straw, the main raw materials used, can now be shredded with the straw grinders. The pellet machine shapes the compost into uniform pellets, and the briquette press enables the production of biochar that is more resistant to impact and less fragile.
With this production line, the start-up Green Business Consulting will be able to produce 120 tonnes of green coal per month, compared to one tonne per month with the traditional process. As a result, the start-up will be able to supply 300 households and 600 producers, instead of the previous 25 households and 50 producers.
The lessons learned during the Acceleration programme have led Zakari to broaden the vision of the start-up. He has been supported in creating several management documents, including a raw materials collection strategy, an updated business plan, a formalised production process, and production protocols. All of these developments have strengthened the start-up's expertise, both nationally and internationally, and expanded its range of opportunities.
As part of the Nexus Water-Energy-Food Security (WEF) Acceleration Programme implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the 2iE Institute, Zakari Idrissa Abdou has created new partnerships that will enable him to increase his financial strength. The programme is funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). In the long term, the CEO aims to produce 500 tonnes of fertiliser per year and 240 tonnes of charcoal per year. Currently, the start-up is planning a certification process to guarantee that its customers receive products that meet international standards.