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Waste to Jobs through Sustainable Biogas Production?

Biogas Technology by Solange Eloe

Eloe's Biogas Technology initiates the shift to sustainable energy by producing biogas as a cost-effective alternative to natural gas. This successful business idea not only makes heating and cooking more affordable in rural communities in Limbé, Cameroon but also contributes to job creation in the transition to eco-friendly energy supply.

Familiar hums of construction equipment and rhythmic sounds of shovels fill the air. Here, in the coastal town of Limbé, near Cameroon's economic capital, Douala, the Biogas Technology project began construction of its production site in 2022. Under the leadership of 35-year-old entrepreneur Solange Eloe, an imaginative vision is being realized: extracting biogas from organic waste. The idea stemmed from the clear recognition that Cameroon urgently needs effective waste disposal solutions while the population relies on wood and gas prices. With her sustainable fuel, the founder succeeds in saving money for families and farmers in her surroundings. Additionally, this contributes to environmental conservation.

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Pictured here: Solange Eloe, founder of Biogas Technology. Copyright: WIDU.africa

From organic waste to cooking gas: Sustainable transformation into usable fuel

As the daughter of farmers, Solange developed an early understanding of responsible natural resource management. Her proximity to the challenges facing farmers in Limbé helped refine her business idea. Following the principles of the circular economy, she collects organic waste from households and farms in the area and converts it into valuable biogas, packaged in handy gas cylinders. Despite the simplicity of the process, a lengthy production process precedes the distribution of the product to rural communities. On the Biogas Technology premises, impressive concrete chambers rise from deep pits. In these chambers, Solange anaerobically ferments organic waste into valuable biogas. Microorganisms perform the art of breaking down the organic material and transforming it into biomethane. Farmers appreciate the by-products from production, using them as environmentally friendly fertilizer to nourish their soils. This practice not only contributes to environmental protection but also helps preserve forests by reducing the need for tree cutting for firewood.

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A sight into the deep pits reveals where the biogas is produced. The WIDU grant played a decisive role in financing the construction work. Copyright: WIDU.africa

First groundbreaking financed with Diaspora private investment

To launch her production, Solange sought financial support and turned to an acquaintance in Germany, Enow Eta. As her diaspora supporter, he invited her to participate in the WIDU.africa project, leading to the submission of the application for the Original WIDU grant. With the support of diaspora private investment and her own financing, the construction of her biogas plant became a reality. The WIDU grant covered construction work and the gas cylinder stock, while private investments secured essential building materials for the foundation of the concrete chambers, including cement, sand, and pipes.

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Carbon dioxide escapes from the chimneys, which is produced during fermentation but is not required. Copyright: WIDU.africa

Award for Green Business in rural communities: First prize at the WIDU Awards Cameroon

With the help of the Original WIDU grant, the founder of Biogas Technology achieved a successful launch of her biogas production. A necessary step that would pay off. Since then, the young entrepreneur has successfully expanded her project and created two jobs. Her outstanding achievements were recognized by the WIDU Awards Cameroon jury in November 2023. Solange received the first prize in the "Green Business" category for her exemplary commitment in the rural communities of Limbé, where she facilitates access to alternative, sustainable, and more affordable energy sources.

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The biogas plants will be built in Limbé between Mount Cameroon and the coast in western Cameroon in mid-2022. Copyright: WIDU.africa