My idea alone will not change the world!

June 30, 2016

I attended the Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen last month. Tom Osborn, 20, Founder and CEO of GreenChar, Kenya was declared winner of the Social Enterprise Challenge Global Solution Award at the conference.

What GreenChar does is significant. From agricultural waste, it makes and distributes low-cost charcoal briquettes. These briquettes help reduce indoor air pollution and lower carbon emissions, besides protecting women from the negative effects of indoor smoke and fuels on their health. The briquettes produced by GreenChar are cheaper and efficient than conventional wood charcoal and firewood.

Indeed, it is a well-deserved honour for young Osborn and his company.

This will certainly motivate young persons to use their entrepreneurial skills towards a bigger cause.

Osborn received a cash prize of $5,000 to scale up his innovation.

He may do so but would that solve Kenya’s energy problem?

I doubt because over 80 per cent Kenyan homes use wood fuels as their main source of household energy. And, over 68 per cent of Kenya’s total energy consumption is wood fuels. This can only be done only if the Government of Kenya picks up the idea and scales it up, in partnership with GreenChar. Such a public private partnership can be a good example of moving towards green energy.

This calls for some out-of-box thinking and openness for partnerships. But more than anything, it calls for an attitude of solving problems based on someone else’s idea.

Leaders need to come out of the attitude of ‘My idea changed the world’ to an attitude of ‘picking up innovative ideas and taking them to scale’ to solve a big problem in their country or world.

We need to redefine what makes a great leader.

Would future international conferences constitute an award for leaders who replicated a successful idea?