Focus for Life Development Link (FLDL), a community-based organization located in Bwaise-Bukasa Zone, Kawempe Division, has acquired a new technological advanced method of briquette production called the honeycomb all thanks to the MTN Uganda staff support.
Founded in 2019, the group has been working to protect the environment whilst also generating income to support their families. Initially, it started with10 members who have since increased to 25 members dealing in briquette-making. A Briquette is a compressed block of coal dust or other combustible biomass material used to make a fire.
In the case of FLDL, they are making biomass briquette as they have access to plenty of waste material. This idea was born out of the nature of the Bwaise area which is a slum neighborhood with a high population that has a waste challenge due to over population. What was meant to be only a disadvantage has prompted the youth in the area to think out of the box and turn the waste material into their gold.
The group also is engaged in the provision of health-related services such as HIV/AID sensitization and end to creating awareness around gender-based violence in the communities and how is can be stopped.
Inspite of all these ingenious ideas and forward-thinking initiatives, the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic left a huge gap in the plans of FLDL. The pandemic triggered the government to impose numerous restrictions including a total lockdown to control the spread of the killer disease, leaving such innovative businesses at a stand still with reduced production rates and low demand for their product.
However, in the wake of the lockdown lift, the group has since returned to business as usual doing their best to make up for lost time. This resilience was one of the qualities that captured MTN Uganda’s interest in supporting FLDL.
MTN Uganda in a bid to champion economic recovery reached out to several groups in the community with the guidance of KCCA to identify impactful businesses and help them get back on their feet. MTN Uganda donated UGX 8 million to FLDL that enabled them to acquire new production equipment such as 2 honeycomb machines, a carbonizer, lighter machines and cleaning materials. They were also furnished with a desk phone, 4 computers and internet access in order to help the group digitalize their business and stayed connected to the world.
The contribution from MTN Uganda has permitted FLDL to double its briquette production capacity in the past two months to 1,000 kilograms of briquette per week. Each kilogram of briquettes is sold at UGX 2,000 for the honeycomb variety and UGX 1,500 per kilogram for the domestic. This boost has aided the group to satisfy the customers and help increase availability of their product on the market.
Daniel Kiwanuka, the group chairperson said the briquettes are produced from sawdust, ash, banana, and potato peelings – an innovation that is now helping nearby communities reduce reliance on charcoal that was previous a negative impact on the environment through forest degradation.
The MTN support has also enabled the organization to diversify its products by including fire lighter materials and brooder stoves to boost their incomes.
“We are now receiving so many invitations from community-based organizations to help carry out youth training concerning commercial briquette making and related products,” he said.
Kiwanuka said the group is also embarking on training more youths and women in briquette making, crafts from plastic waste and skills in information and communication technologies.
He said the group also intends to venture into biogas production to increase the share of the energy mix and reduce over-reliance on wood fuel.
The 2016-2017 Uganda National Household survey indicates that the east African nation heavily relies on forest-produced energy sources including charcoal and wood for cooking, accounting for more than 90 percent. The surge in demand for charcoal has increased pressure on the remaining forests worsening the effects of environmental degradation.
Kiwanuka said that the group intends to spread the message to the rural areas concerning conserving the environment.
Bryan Mbasa, senior manager at MTN Uganda Foundation said they are excited that the campaign has created a positive impact on the communities in which the company operates.
“We consider sustainability as a very key part of our initiatives both a Corporate
Social Responsibility and as a business in general,” he said, adding that they look forward to reaching out to more communities for skilling, work readiness, and innovation culture for start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises.
Other groups that received MTN support during the campaign include; the Tesobar deaf carpentry group in Lira, the Masaka Diocese Youth, Jinja-based Tabulera Kawuma deaf carpentry, the Disabled Association of Fortportal, the Bunusya Abarema Twetungure Association in Mbarara, the Glorious widows of Makindye, Missionaries of the poor in Rubaga and the Nakawa Market Vendors association.
The MTN’s 21 Days of Y’ello Care is an annual MTN staff volunteerism campaign observed by all MTN employees across all its markets to make a difference in the lives of the communities within which they work. The campaign that dates back to 2007 is always executed within the first 21 days of June every year.