At this year’s Youth Africa Works Summit held in Kigali. He got selected to be among the youth speakers working in the agricultural sector to share their stories, successes and hopes for the sector.
Born in a small village in southern Rwanda, where the majority of inhabitants rely on subsistence farming, Jean Bosco Nzeyimana a 24-year-old “agro-entrepreneur” founded Habona Ltd, a waste treatment company that makes affordable and environmentally friendly biofuels from waste. Since its launch in 2013, it has expanded to employ 30 permanent workers and 50 part time workers.
He came up with that idea back in 2013 while he was a student at the university of Rwanda’s College of Business and Economics (CBE). At that time he was studying business administration and had a passion for the development of his village in the sectors of hygiene and lack of clean fuel.
After researching on how waste can be turned into manure, biogas and briquettes (a block of compressed peat used as fuel) that can replace firewood. He used the knowledge he had acquired in college to come up with a solid business plan.
While many startups never survive their initial stages due to lack of financing. Nzeyimana wasn’t discouraged. He kept on operating with the little he had and when the African Innovation Prize called for entries in a business plan competition, he pitched and won top position walking away with $2,400.
He went on to win the 2014 Young Innovator Award in Rwanda. At the 2016 global entrepreneurship summit, Nzeyimana was among the panelists alongside former President of the US Barack Obama and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Habona Ltd has changed farmers’ lives by providing organic fertilizers made from waste collected in different neighborhoods and communities. This is not only a solution for farming, but also a step to reduce greenhouse gases that used to be emitted by that waste if not treated.
Ever since he started his company, there’s been positive feedback and demand for his products. He recently sat down with PUM Netherlands senior experts to brainstorm on how waste collection and briquette production can be carried out at Kigeme refugee camp.
In future, he plans to have a factory in every district that will help solve the issue of many trees being cut down for charcoal. Electricity is also another field he wants to venture in by installing biogas plants that will also help him run some of the machinery at his factory.