To make the bio-digester business viable and ensure the enterprises play a key role in the value chain, the National Bio-digester Programme of Ethiopia is encouraging masons to formalise their business.
“Getachew Lemeccha is one of the bio-digester construction enterprise owners who took bio-digester construction as a business. Mobilising his family, he has constructed more than 200 bio-digesters in 10 districts of East Shewa and Jimma Zones of Oromia region. Currently, he has formalised his business“, said Kedir Adem, Manager Oromia RBPCU.
In 2010, National Bio-digester Programme of Ethiopia (NBPE) with technical support from SNV Netherlands Development Organisation had trained 1,539 bio-digester masons including Getachew Lemeccha on bio-digester construction. After some time, selected bio-digester masons including Getachew received entrepreneurship training.
However, an assessment by the Programme revealed that the majority of the masons have joined other competing sectors. The long process to set up bio-digester enterprises, misconception on commercial viability of the bio-digester business in the rural context and business capacity limitation among the youth contributed to the high turnover.
Despite this, in 2016, some masons started to establish bio-digester construction companies. Getachew Lemecca Bio-digester Construction Work and Bio-digester Materials Supplier was one of the formally established bio-digester construction enterprises in the same year, in Mojo town, Oromia region, Ethiopia.
“Getachew has a good communication skill. He is also active in providing preferable after-sales service”, said Wagaye Taye, a bio-digester user in Mojo town.
He started the business with his two brothers. Gradually, each of them established his own bio-digester business with a seed money from their brother. One of his brothers has formalised his bio-digester business Memoria Bio-digester in Jimma zone of Oromia region.
“Vision is very important to stay in bio-digester business. Most of my friends were not able to envision the opportunity in the business,” said Getachew.
The NBPE Private Sector Development Framework, the recent training on customised entrepreneurship combined with support from Oromia Bio-digester Programme Coordination Unit encouraged him to formalise the business. Now, he has created job opportunity for eight youth: four permanent and four temporary employees.
Currently, he has a proper office. SNV Netherlands Development Organisation has assisted him in preparing a viable business plan and also provided business coaching. From this exercise, he has understood the dynamics of the bio-digester market, the relevance of collaboration among stakeholders and demand creation.
“From the recent entrepreneurship training, I have learnt the benefits of engaging in the various activities of the bio-digester value chain. I want my enterprise to become a preferred BCE. My next plan is engaging in suppling bio-digester appliances and accessories,” added Getachew.
The bio-digester business is generating a monthly income of ETB 5,000 (USD 250) for him and ETB 3,000 (USD 150) for each of the four masons. Besides, he has created additional job opportunities for four temporary workers. Using a portion of the income from bio-digester business, he purchase a three wheeled vehicle commonly called Bajaj for ETB 120,000.00 for transporting people on rental basis and diversifying his source of income. In addition, he leased three plots (one for himself and the others for his two brothers) of urban land.
NBPE is co-funded by the Government of Ethiopia and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS). It receives fund management and technical assistance from Humanist Institute for International Development Cooperation (HIVOS) and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, respectively. The programme creates market-based solutions to energy poverty through promotion of bio-digester, as clean energy and bio-slurry, as organic fertiliser.