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Enterprising Kakamega Women Turn Waste into Smokeless Coal Briquettes to Support Their Families


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In the rurals of Kakamega County, a group of determined women have found an innovative way to supplement their household incomes – by producing and selling handcrafted, smokeless coal briquettes.

These enterprising Kakamega women have revived an age-old practice, transforming locally sourced wood waste into a valuable fuel source. Through careful burning and processing techniques, they are able to produce high-quality, smokeless coal briquettes that are in high demand both within their local communities and in the nearby urban markets.

“We collect wood scraps and other organic waste from our villages and turn them into these clean-burning briquettes,” said 42-year-old Maria Auma, a mother of three from the village of Shinyalu. “Selling the briquettes has become an important source of income for our families. The extra money allows us to afford school fees, put nutritious food on the table, and meet other critical household expenses.”

The women work together in small cooperatives, pooling their resources, sharing knowledge, and supporting one another to improve their briquette production methods. This collaborative approach has enabled them to expand their businesses and attract a growing customer base.

“When we first started out, we faced some challenges in ensuring the consistency and quality of our briquettes,” explained Fatima Mukoya, another member of the Shinyalu charcoal cooperative. “But through trial and error, and by learning from each other, we’ve been able to develop techniques that result in a smokeless, high-energy product that people really want to buy.”

Local government officials in Kakamega have taken notice of the women’s enterprising spirit and initiative. Some have provided training programs and small grants to help the briquette makers upgrade their equipment and increase their production capacity.

“These Kakamega women are truly an inspiration,” said Kakamega County Governor Fernandes Barasa. “They’re demonstrating how local entrepreneurship and resourcefulness can create meaningful economic opportunities, even in the face of limited options. We’re proud to support their efforts and see their businesses grow.”

As demand for their high-quality, smokeless briquettes continues to rise, the women are optimistic about the future. They see their briquette-making enterprises not just as a means of supplementing their household incomes, but as a way to build sustainable livelihoods and uplift their entire community.

“Our briquette business has truly been a game-changer for us,” said Maria Auma. “It’s allowed us to provide for our families, and has given us a sense of pride and empowerment. We’re excited to keep expanding and to inspire other women in our region to follow in our footsteps.”

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