ABH Helps In Highlighting The Brilliance, Determination & Capabilities of Africans- Chebet Lesan from Kenya,2020 Winner.
February 18, 2021
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Our phones didn’t stop ringing for about two weeks with congratulatory messages, says Chebet Lesan who won the 2020 ABH awards. The Founder and CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy believes that the ABH program will help to highlight the brilliance , determination and capabilities of African people.
“The hard work for us has been consistency, consistency in product development, customer satisfaction, growth and improvement,” says Chebet.
“Cooking Energy Poverty is commonly experienced across several African countries, meaning that the opportunity for our growth is very big. Our focus is to increase our market share within the East African Community first, as we build longer term plans to enter the larger African Market,” Chebet said on plans going forward,
Chebet Lesan is Founder and CEO of BrightGreen Renewable Energy, could we start this interview with an introduction of the company?
BrightGreen Renewable Energy works to increase access to clean cooking energy to the most vulnerable populations across Africa. We recycle farm waste commonly known as biomass, into energy efficient fuel blocks, suitable for cooking and heating. Our product helps families to cook safer, cheaper and sustainably. We have started our work in Kenya and are looking to expand our impact across this region.
How did you conceive the idea of creating BrightGreen Renewable Energy and what were some of the challenges you faced?
Charcoal and firewood are heavily used fuels in many kitchens across the African continent, about 70%. It’s a challenge I experienced in my home, and one that I thought did not receive the kind of attention that it deserved. Starting and running BrightGreen has been a labour commitment, focus and determination to solve a problem in my community, and to be a voice to a widespread problem in our continent.
You recently emerged as the winner of the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) 2020 Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation, with a cash prize $300,000, how did you receive the news?
We were very excited and humbled at the same time, it was a tough competition!
What was the reaction of your staff, family, and even the Kenyan government to this landmark achievement?
There was so much excitement and encouragement! Our phones didn’t stop ringing for about two weeks with congratulatory messages. As Top 10 Finalists in the competition, we had reached out to our community and asked them to support us to get to the top, and indeed we received great backing! Our community anxiously waited for the results, and when they were announced, they were overjoyed!
Your company has its base in Kenya, what prospects are there and with what possible timeline to expand to other countries in East Africa and the rest of Africa?
Cooking Energy Poverty is commonly experienced across several African countries, meaning that the opportunity for our growth is very big. Our focus is to increase our market share within the East African Community first, as we build longer term plans to enter the larger African Market.
What words of wisdom, what tips do you have for those other young people in Kenya and East Africa who look up to you as a model and will like to emulate your success story?
Hard work is an integral part to success. The hard work for us has been in consistency. Consistency in product development, in customer satisfaction, in growth, in improvement etc. We’re always looking around us to see what resources we have that can help us to be better, more impactful and more efficient in the work that we do. As young business, we have focused on building a strong business model, finding the right team to work with and taking care of the customers we have, even as we seek out for new ones. When starting a business, it’s absolutely okay to start small, with the resources you have, and give it time to grow.
We end this interview with an opportunity for you to say a word to the Jack Ma Foundation and to others across Africa and the world with the potential for similar initiatives that could bring out the genius in many young Africans, what message to them?
We are extremely grateful to the Jack Ma Foundation and the Africa Business Heroes Program, for recognizing the potential and amazing work that many African entrepreneurs are doing in this continent. I believe this program will help to highlight the brilliance, determination and capabilities of the African people.
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