I first visited Samson Kayzee (pronounced chaz-ee), in Kampala, Uganda, a little over three years ago. At that time he was just starting out making briquettes. He had a small manual press he had built himself and was using a mix of sawdust and newspaper. The briquettes were smoky and didn’t sell well. But I was impressed by his entrepreneurial drive.
Recently I paid a follow up visit and what a change. Samson now has an electrically powered press and mixing machines, a long wire-mesh drying rack and a new store house. His briquettes, made of charcoal dust and cassava porridge, are top quality and have just been given a stamp of approval by the Ugandan bureau of standards.
Production is running at 6 tonnes a month and is limited only by the lack of drying facilities. Samson took a loan to equip his business and is close to paying it off. He is negotiating a second, bigger loan, with which he plans to build more drying racks and purchase a truck. Currently the briquette press runs only 3 hours a day but with more drying space production could be doubled.
Most of the current production is sold wholesale to a single customer. But Samson has other people interested in buying. He told me: ‘There is a supermarket owner who bought my briquettes for personal use. Now he wants me to supply his supermarket.’
As small businesses like this grow and adopt more professional standards briquettes will become more widely accepted in the market.