We travel to Kakamega county to catch up with ECO2LIBRIUM employees and partners on their experience working for a certified B Corp and the impact they are having in in the community. Tell us a bit about Eco2Librium and why you set up in Kakamega? ECO2 LIBRIUM, ECO2 as we call it, applies business solutions to solve social and environmental problems, engaged primarily in energy and forestry conservation related enterprises. Our founders were biologists working to conserve Kakamega forest; the last pristine tropical forest in Kenya. But as professors, they soon realized conservation was not an educational problem but an economical one. Educating the community on conservation was not the solution; they had to find alternative solutions to the vast problems that drove the community to exploit the forest. This is what we continue to do to date. We started with energy efficient cook stoves to reduce the deforestation of Kakamega forest. Our newest project is creating renewable bio mass fuel from bagasse, a fibrous biomass waste resulting from the commercial production of sugar. ECO2 sponsored me to pursue my dreams of studying a Masters in Applied Geospatial Science at the Bowling Green State University(BGSU), Ohio, USA. For my thesis project, I created this map above that I keep in my office showing the Geo-spatial locations of installed stoves around Kakamega Forest. Every day I am reminded how far we have come and the impact we have had and why we must push on.
Christopher Amutabi, Senior Manager
Gilfine Nyangasi, Finance and Human Resources Administrative Manager
For me as the head of finance and human resources, the B Corp certification has really helped put in the right internal policies in our organization as it steadily grows. We use the 5 B Corp pillars: Workers, Environment, Governance, community and customers to continuously improve our activities. This has helped in creating a work place culture that our employees love and feel the impact of their work. We take care of our staff and create deep team engagement in the small things such as providing lunch, sponsoring staff education abroad, team building and exposure to different department regardless of background. Every so often for example, I go to the field with my staff to better understand our work and meet some of our partners.
I was born and bred in Kakamega and I have been working with the founders since 2010 when ECO2 was founded, before we even decided to become a B Corp. In this 7 years I have seen the impact that this business has had on my community and beyond, creating over 400 jobs and protecting the forest. This is why I am still here. Our impact goes far beyond socio economic benefits to household benefits. 80% of our production and installation groups are predominantly run by women’s groups that eventually empower their families and communities far beyond what we will ever know. Though we see this impact everyday the B Corp certification has provided us a way to measure these impacts and see how we can improve and this has also opened up funding opportunities from impact invest.
John, Stoves for Life Manager
I don’t know about B Corp but visitors from ECO2 are like family to us. ECO2 has truly been a blessing for my family and community since 8th February 2014 when I first joined. Firstly, bringing us these cook stoves that are much better than the three stones and firewood that we used to use. We utilize much less firewood than we used to, we don’t need to walk over 10km everyday to fetch firewood. We inhale less smoke because they have been made very efficiently and the food even tastes better. But for us, as women the benefits have gone far beyond this. Most importantly bringing income to the home enabling us to educate our children and take care of many basic needs of our families. Even more importantly, we are now respected by our husbands as income earners for the home and that has been a real boost of confidence for us. I am forever grateful to ECO2 and all the people behind their great work.
Hellen Otsieli, Chairwoman Matiha stoves installation group