Leroy Mwasaru on renewable energy and creating solutions for African people

“If I don’t, then who will?” asks the social entrepreneur.

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“I’ve always gotten into trouble for trying to do good,” Leroy Mwasaru said, speaking at the 2018 Design Indaba Conference. “At least when you compare my age to the size of my ambitions.”

The youngest speaker to take the 2018 Design Indaba stage, the 20-year old Mwasaru admits to having always felt a sense of responsibility when it came to the issues troubling his community. Hailing from Kisumu County, Kenya, he has been using this intuitive drive to develop alternative sources of renewable energy for his local community and surrounding areas.

It’s vital work that has seen the young social entrepreneur be given coverage by the likes of CNN, The HuffPost, Forbes, UpWorthy, Grist, and more – and to think it all began as a high school project.

While Mwasaru was still a student at Kisumu County’s Maseno School, the faulty sewerage system of a newly built dormitory became a thorn in the side of the local community. Waste overflowed to nearby springs, poisoning the main source of water used by locals, causing an uproar against the school.

The school’s kitchen was also being fuelled by firewood, depleting the areas timber supply.

The young Mwasaru brought together a group of similarly solution-inclined classmates to begin building a bioreactor to remove this waste. Though their first prototype exploded, the device ultimately prevented the pollution of the surrounding natural resources and even presented a safe source of methane fuel, reducing the school’s reliance upon firewood.

The success of the project led Mwasaru to establish the social enterprise Greenpact at just 16-years old. Today, it offers clean, renewable biogas solutions, and is one of few companies pushing for Kenya’s adoption of clean energy, as well as for the greater continent of Africa achieving 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2050.

“Social entrepreneurship isn’t just about buying and selling services,” he told the Design Indaba audience, summing up his company's mission. “Social entrepreneurship, at the core of it, involves solving for the people not the enterprise.”

Mwasaru can be seen in this month’s issue of Forbes Africa, where he is featured in their 30 Under 30 list of future billionaires.

Design Indaba 2018 Conference Talks are presented in partnership with Liberty.  

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