“I started Green Heat as energy from organic waste is intriguing”

Bertil van Vugt
By on August 25, 2015

Green Heat from Uganda is one of the 15 companies that will pitch on stage during the Investor Forum on 9 September in Nairobi, Kenya as part of the SEED Symposium. We contacted the founder Vianney Tumwesige to learn more about what his company is doing.

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Vianney TumwesigePlease pitch your business in one sentence?

“Green Heat offers innovative and cost effective one-stop waste management solutions at the source of generation.”

What inspired you to start the company?

“Back in 2007 I wanted to bring affordable, renewable energy to Ugandans. I was intrigued by energy from organic waste and began to investigate how it could be produced by experimenting with organic waste in plastic bottles. Biogas energy production actually transforms the costly problem of waste disposal into a profitable solution.”

What problem are you solving?

“90% of Ugandan households and institutions rely on traditional biomass cooking methods, typically charcoal for urban dwellers and firewood for rural households. The biomass is inefficiently burnt as fire wood for cooking purposes, thus causing a rapid decline of natural forests and poor health conditions for users due to indoor air pollution. Furthermore, rapid population growth has increased the rate of solid waste generation which is a threat to public health and environmental quality.”

Green Heat - Biogas seen for the first time

Ugandan customers of Green Heat are now able to use biogas in their home.

How do low-income people benefit from your business model?

“The installed biogas digester in rural institutions and households provide cooking fuel, safer disposal of organic wastes and the provision of a valuable organic fertiliser. To the wider community, the benefits include reduced loss of biodiversity and carbon due to deforestation, improvement in water quality and a viable, and sustainable alternative to wood fuel. Biomass smoke in homes increases particulate concentrations during and after cooking sessions. Biogas contributes the least amount of particulate matter on a 24-hour average compared to other biomass fuels.”

Please highlight what has been achieved so far. What are the key milestones?

“So far Green Heat has installed 110 digesters. Organic-waste (200-700 kg) processed in a digester produces 78-400 kg/day of high quality fertilizer. The 110 digesters are able to produce 6-10 tons/day. Green Heat estimates an effective application rate of 1,000 kg/acre. The average subsistence farm in Uganda is about 5 acres. GreenHeat proof-of-concept digesters produces approximately 4500 tons/year of fertilizer, enough for about 900 family-farms to increase yields. Households do not regularly purchase firewood making it difficult to quantify the financial benefits. However, institutional digesters installed are able to save over $35,000/year by not purchasing firewood.”

You’ve won the SEED Low Carbon Award last year? How has this recognition helped you running your business?

“In terms of awareness and visibility, Green Heat has been able to host 60 potential clients from big schools at the installed demonstration biogas sites. We have used the demonstration sites for training purposes of unemployed youth. When I’m looking at marketing and promotion, biogas as a product demands for tailored marketing methods to increase visibility. We have been able do develop promotional materials this resulted in increased consumer awareness of biogas digesters and their ability to contribute to lighting, cooking and heating.”

What do you expect from the pitch sessions in front of investors in Nairobi during the Nairobi Investor Forum, organized by SEED and IBA?

“I’m expecting to meet many people and expand my networks, speak to possible funders about financing my business and in general to get visibility for Green Heat. I’m looking forward to the event!”
Visit the venture profile of Green Heat to learn more about the company. Register as investor on this platform to get access to the fundraising information of Tambul Leaf Plates: Investment amount, self assessment quickscan, business plan and financial forecasting.