The most effective social change work takes a step away from charity towards empowerment, providing participants with tools to improve their lives in a longstanding and gratifying ways. We recently reported on Endaga, which sought to empower locals in remote areas by enabling them to set up small businesses selling mobile phone service to their community. Now, (B)energy are franchising their biogas products, alongside a simple business model, to ambitious people in rural Africa, Asia and Latin America, enabling local entrepreneurs to produce and sell the clean cooking fuel.
Biogas is an eco-friendly alternative to high pollution, unsustainable options such as fuel wood or charcoal. It is created from organic waste including animal dung, kitchen waste, human faeces and agricultural residue. (B)energy sell a range a products which cover production, sale and use of biogas, enabling local suppliers and customers alike to utilize this safer, cleaner option.
The (B)Plant is the biogas production unit, an above ground plug flow system which converts the waste into biogas within a simple greenhouse. Previously, after biogas has been produced, delivering the gas to homes has proved an issue — piping the gas is an extremely costly option. Within the (B)energy system, users connect a (B)Pack to the device which automatically inflates with biogas. It can then be disconnected and used to transport the product to local customers via shoulder-straps. Finally the (B)flame is a biofuel stove — similar to the BioLite and the ACE1 — which enables anyone to cook with biogas fuel in their home. Franchise investors are encouraged to sell the stoves in their area, strengthening their business and simultaneously helping the environment.
(B)energy is a social business using technology to empower people through its franchise infrastructure. Are there other businesses which could adjust their business model to similar effect?