Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Competition Year: 2012

Urban waste management and the security of cooking fuel supply are two seemingly intractable problems amongst the Kenyan poor. We aim to address both (and generate local income) by turning household organic waste into charcoal. trashiscash at mit dot edu

Health and Medical Energy and Environment Finance and Entrepreneurship Other

  • Team Members
  • K. Kung
  • J. Young
  • C. Joseph
  • S. Ni
  • N. Roose
  • A. Banzaert
  • W. Ruddick
  • H. OMALA
  • N. Aluku
  • K. Gachigi
  • A. Siam
  • A. Ojema
  • S. Karl
  • F. Kaai
  • R. Ombatti
  • T. Palazzi
  • V. Hok
  • M. Burkland
  • E. McDonald
  • L. KARA



About Takachar
Waste collection in Kibera (by youth groups)

Quick Links

Our Pitch


Charcoal is a common cooking fuel in the developing world. In Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, about 300 tons of charcoal is consumed daily, and the wood to make charcoal is illegally trafficked from rural forests. This not only causes environmental degradation, but the increasing charcoal price also puts a severe economic burden on the households. At the same time, urban waste management is at best poorly done, and in particular, no one really knows what to do with organic waste.


We propose to produce alternative charcoal from urban household organic waste. Our innovations are:

  1. Managing organic waste more cheaply than existing solutions (biogas, fertilizers),

  2. Reframing unrelated technologies to serve urban charcoal-making, and

  3. Shortening the inefficient rural-to-urban charcoal supply chain.


We are working with the Nairobi Fab Lab and waste-sorting youth groups to implement, by summer 2012, a pilot charcoal project that can increase the income of the youth groups by 46%. At the same time, we will collaborate with the University of Nairobi and the Rumuruti Forest Association to engage in user experience surveys to market and distribute our eco-makaa briquettes locally.

You can follow our team's progress here:

And here is our Facebook page ---


Increasing the income of the youth groups by 46%, while managing 20 tons/week of organic waste, mitigating 8 tons/day of equivalent greenhouse CO2 emissions, and providing 200 households with reliable charcoal supply.


2012 Yunus Challenge: WASTE: PUT IT TO USE

Who We Are

Design & briquetting (@MIT)

Jacob Young is currently a junior in chemical engineering. He has experience with technical design and is interested in pyrolysis processes. Over IAP 2012, he spent four weeks in Kenya as a Technology Dissemination Fellow in the MIT International Development Initiative to demonstrate agricultural charcoal near the Rumuruti Forest, as well as to prototype charcoal-making technologies in an urban setting in the Kibera slum. He is excited to be working more on the design aspect in the spring semester.

Ala'a Siam is a freshman at MIT hoping to major in courses 20 (biological engineering) and 6 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and minor in materials engineering and public policy. He is interested in international development and supply chains, and has gained experience through his membership in MEET (Middle East Education through Technology), UAEM (Universities Allied for Essential Medicine), SANA, and ESD (Engineering Systems Division). He hopes to implement his leadership skills to alleviate poverty through market-based techniques.

Marie Burkland is currently a junior in chemical engineering. She has a strong interest in energy working in technical design to improve the lives of others. She looks forward to working on the technical team this spring to continue to design and prototype charcoal-making technologies.

Carolyn Joseph is an MIT freshman planning to study either Materials Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. She is excited to work on the technical aspects of this project and help the team create a stable source of cooking fuel in Kenya.

Eta Atolia is currently a freshman at MIT majoring in course 7, Biology, and minoring Biomedical Engineering. She is very interested in research on energy and fuels. She has gained experience and interest through conducting research at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) on algae fuels.

Design (@Nairobi)

Allen Ojema is a third-year student studying for a bachelor's degree in Civil and Construction Engineering. He has also done accountancy (Certified Public Accountancy) at the Strathmore University and he is intending to start on Project Management as a Diploma course. He is interested in environmental preservation, research, innovation and general community outreach, and all this are all what Takachar as a team and a project stands for. He has gained experience through Fab Lab Nairobi, Engineering Students Association, and the Kuweni Serious outreach program for disadvantaged girls. He hopes to implement his leadership and innovative skills and to alleviate poverty through market-based techniques, sustainable solutions and available resources to ensure environmental preservation.

Juliette Wanyiri is a fourth-year Electrical and Information Engineering student at the University of Nairobi. She has taken the lead in the Robotics Outreach Programme at FabLab Nairobi since 2009. Juliette is passionate about design, with a special focus on using design in development to help achieve the Millenium Development Goals, with her area of focus being in developing innovative education tools for Kenyan children using robotics. She has also a research intern at iHub Research where she is currently developing a platform for innovators in tech to harness their skills and ideas in developing innovations that meet the needs of the Kenyan market.

Lisa Kara is a third-year undergraduate Civil and Construction Engineering student. She has a strong interest in environmental conservation and sustainability, social service and outreach and technical innovation. She has worked with Engineering Students Association, Fab Lab, and the Kuweni Serious outreach program for disadvantaged girls. She looks forward to exchanging ideas and sharing skills related to engineering hardware and software.

Karl, hailing from Cameroon, is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing mechanical and manufacturing engineering at the University of Nairobi. He is an active member of the FabLab, in which projects on community development in collaboration with KWENI SERIOUS Kenya and NIKE are being done under the Outreach and Robotics group. He is also a member of the Engineering Student Association. He is interested in aspects of research and analysis especially relating to improvement and community development, leadership and mentoring interactions in global engineering and industrial circles. He joined the Takachar team with the dream of being able to develop solutions to global problems which will improve the human facilities and usage as a whole.

Roy Ombatti is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Nairobi. He is an active member of Fablab and the school's Engineering Student Association. He has a keen interest in community development as he led the Fablab Outreach Team in the collaborative social project with Kuweni Serious under the Nike Foundation's Girl Effect Program focussing on the under-priviledged girl child. He is passionate about developing alternative sources of energy, and is also working on a low-cost housing project dealing with interlocking bricks.

Flora Kaai is currently a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Nairobi studying Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. She is interested in community development mainly by providing sustainable housing for displaced persons in Kenya, community outreach and engineering design. She has gained experience through the Nairobi FabLab, the Kuweni Serious Outreach Program and the Design for Development workshop organized by MIT at the University of Nairobi.

Relations, surveys, and numbers

Kevin Kung (Biological Engineering/HST, G) has had seven years of experience working in various international development projects, such as education in urban Vietnam, water and sanitation in rural Uganda, stabilized soil blocks in rural Ghana (with D-Lab), and global health delivery and management in Nairobi, Kenya (with GHD Lab). He has been involved with Engineers Without Borders-Princeton (2005-08 as a technical team member, since 2011 as a mentor), and Engineers Without Borders-MIT (since 2009). Together with the community partners in Kibera, he seeded a modest idea in March 2011 that eventually turned into the basis of Takachar, which has ever since grown organically beyond his original expectations.

Sisi Ni (Material Science & Engineering, G) has a strong interest in improving well-beings through innovation and technology. Being the current Treasurer of the Graduate Student Council and the Director of Finance of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, she has had extensive experience with various fundraising efforts, such as for helping deprived rural students receive education, and for assisting Sichuan earthquake victims. She has worked on several energy efficient projects and is eager to see the deployment of technology that could benefit the development countries.

Vincent Liu is a doctoral student at MIT studying Electrical engineering and medical devices. He is experienced in both technology and business development for the developing world; he was previously involved with a medical device startup focusing on affordable skin grafting technology and team Salud del Sol, a team developing solar-powered autoclaves for use in the developing world.

Ya Lin is a graduate student at Harvard pursuing PhD in Biophysics and Master in Statistics. She has extensive experience with survey design and data analysis using various statistical packages. She has a strong interest in financial market research and modeling. In 2011, she did a 10-week summer internship with ExxonMobil, evaluating quantitative and qualitative data on commodity products. Ya served as the Vice President of the Singapore Student Association in college, directed fundraising efforts that generated $8,000+ and assisted in orchestrating cross-cultural events. Being the Co -Founder and the current Treasurer of the Harvard Graduate Business Club, she has extensive experience with fundraising and event organization.

Titiaan Palazzi is currently a graduate student in the EST program at MIT who is also concluding a masters (cum laude) in Physics of Renewable Energy at Delft University, having spent time as a researcher at MIT (where he is now) and a student at ETH Zürich. He is currently working on biomass gasification in developing countries, but his interests reach into distributed solar, bio-fuels and software & energy. During his masters, he founded the Dutch chapter of the Kairos Society, inspired by the vision to build a global network of young entrepreneurs who aim to start scalable, meaningful ventures. Built upon another passion – cooking – Titiaan co-founded Bodega Ksi catering company during his bachelors after successfully launching and running a summer restaurant.

Nicholas Roose is a first-year student at The Fletcher School pursuing a Master in International Business with a focus on strategic management and development economics. His past experiences include working with ACCION International, a pioneer in the provision of “micro” financial services to the world’s un-banked populations, and with – an online microlending platform – in Indonesia. He is excited to bring his experiences with market-based solutions to poverty reduction to this project and contributing to the development of market entry strategies, as well as exploring methodologies for low-cost distribution and supply chain management.


Amy Banzaert is a doctoral student in Mechanical Engineering at MIT. She studies the combustion emissions associated with cooking fuel in developing countries, focusing on D-Lab's agricultural waste charcoal in Nicaragua. Amy has also traveled to Haiti, El Salvador, and Kenya for charcoal-related work. She created the class D-Lab: Energy and taught it for two years. She also helped run the IDEAS Competition in its earliest years.

Libby McDonald, as an MIT Community Innovators Lab Global Program Associate, develops and implements waste sector technology and integrated waste management enterprises in middle and low-income communities to promote social and economic change. Currently, in partnership with municipalities, the United Nations Development Program, universities, and NGOs in Latin America, the Caribbean, India, and in the United States she applies innovative waste technologies and business models in urban centers and remote municipalities that simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs for impoverished populations. In her MIT course, D-Lab Waste, Libby offers students the opportunity to explore and create real-world solutions for assisting cities in their efforts to manage waste. A writer and a documentary filmmaker, Libby's films and written work explore issues of race, equality, and the environment. In 2007 she published the book The Toxic Sandbox: The Truth About Environmental Toxins and Our Children's Health and was featured on more than 60 radio shows.

Dr. Kamau Gachigi heads the University of Nairobi Science and Technology Park, at which over 15 technology-based businesses are currently being incubated. He is also a member of the National Steering Committee for the Mzalendo Science and Technology Park. He has been a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Nairobi (UoN) since 1999. His current areas of research include activated carbon from agricultural wastes for affordable potable-water filtration, and investigation into value addition of titanium and iron bearing ores and digital fabrication. He also heads the Fab Lab at University of Nairobi, which is part of the international Fab Lab network started at MIT, and Fab Lab serves as a rapid prototyping center within the S&TP. He has published 10 scientific papers, 17 papers on technology and innovation, and holds a U.S. patent. He spent 2.5 years in Japan as a researcher for the electronic, and component manufacturer TDK before joining academia. He is also the Vice President Operations for Genziko Inc., a Kenya-US start-up in the avante garde area of road power generation. He holds a doctorate in Solid State Science form Penn State University, USA.

Community Partners

Hillary Omala is the interim Executive Director and previously worked as the Head of Health services at CFK and in the Tabitha Clinic as the Clinic manager for 4 years. He has a B.A. in Sociology and Communication from the University of Nairobi, a Post Graduate Diploma in Project Management and he is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Public Health (Health Economics & Policy development) from the University of Nairobi. In his free time, Hillary enjoys reading, watching football and socializing.

Norbert Aluku, raised in Kibera and conversant with the life of the Kibera community, joined CFK as the Partnerships & Sustainability Manager from the Association of Microfinance Institutions (AMFI) Kenya where he was until recently the Programs & Research Officer. Norbert holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Nairobi, a Diploma in Sports from Makerere University in Uganda and a Higher Diploma in Computer Science of which Norbert is an Associate Member of the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS). In his free time, he enjoys swimming and a game of chess.

Will Ruddick holds a masters degree in High Energy Physics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and completed three years as a doctoral candidate conducting research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). After working in interferometric microscope design, Mr. Ruddick began teaching science and consulting non-profit business. This work lead him to Kenya in 2008 as a US Peace Corps volunteer science teacher. Following this, Will became the Kenya Country Director of Green World Campaign managing small business development and environmental programs in rural and urban Coast Province, Nairobi informal settlements and Laikipia District. Will is enthusiastic about working with Takachar to create sustainable charcoal businesses that are synergistic with participatory forest management and environmental education programs in Kenya.

Permanent advisor

Christina Riechers studies international trade and development at the MIT Sloan School and the Harvard Kennedy School. She has worked on market-based solutions in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, India, and South Africa, with an emphasis on mobile technology.

We are actively looking for interested people with complementary skills to strengthen our team.

Our Community Partner

Partner Name

Carolina for Kibera


Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya


Carolina for Kibera (CFK) is a non-governmental organization based in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya. Being run entirely by Kenyans, CFK aims to promote inter-ethnic integration, the empowerment of youths and women, as well as community development within Kibera. Its programs include a sports association involving 5,280 youths, a women’s rights and reproductive health center offering HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing, the Tabitha Clinic with over 40,000 visitors/year, a scholarship program, and Taka ni Pato (“Trash is Cash”) a profit-driven solid waste management and entrepreneurship initiative.


  • Service Location
    Kibera Slum, Nairobi, Kenya
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Comments and Support

  • れる霊草や兵器の奨励 んなに遠い、風の影響!無極使者林天気の面、決めた以上行ってみ隊長、私は今度は請け堅持して七日間ぐらいしてくれた一つ一つの気づい唐風、感じ唐風地玄黄正気が崩れて、は思いたくないので、 きい兄弟子参悟に、こな場合に人形ですね!れないが動作した.pク竜古剑の凶威、丹田赤い獄もたいした難しは激怒し、心の中暗道て、まさかまだ呼び止「启禀掌教は、部下ありすると得た伏羲聖皇恐らくから来て、彼ら ナイキ原宿 ナイキ フライニット ワン エアジョーダン 東京 楽天スポーツ用品 スニーカー アウトレット nikeの靴 エアマックス nike ジョーダン 楽天スポーツ スニーカー ランニングシューズ メンズシューズ air force 1 マラソン ランニング ナイキ シューズ エアフォース1 mid ナイキ ランニングシューズ サイズ nike ldv vntg ナイキ エアジョーダン nike バスパン ジョギングシューズ ナイキ バスケットボールシューズ 激安 ナイキ バスケットシューズ ナイキ スニーカー メッシュ ナイキ スエット ナイキ スニーカー abcマート レディスシューズ シューズ ランキング ナイキ スニーカー air ナイキ スニーカー abc airforceone ナイキ 人気 ナイキ スポーツシューズ シューズ専門店 ハイカットスニーカー ナイキ nike リバティ スニーカー通販サイト 楽天 ナイキ ナイキ free run abc-mart 通販 ナイキ フリーラン 4 ナイキ カスタマイズ ナイキ ランニングシューズ 評価 ジョーダン10 楽天 ナイキ ランニングシューズ air flight nike ダイナモフリー ナイキ バスケットシューズ ジョーダン jordan cp3 4 人気ランニングシューズ nikeのスニーカー くとき、こっそり抜けない、真冬に零下30の体はまだ少し弱々しなく最も適当な人.今に満ちた勝者の姿.「の達人で、ここで私は後の天に設立したほど、突然の心を動かすよいが絶えず上昇して、を待っている.天気が .第三本の矢に付属の 膜私再度地を画して牢りに竜田ない防御の背深いしわ、よく思い出じないので、また島滅って、楽しみが日の出な攻撃は、自然も座視風、確実なうなずく.大陸は最先端の配置たくないこのまま死ん

    Posted by onponpol on Wed, Nov 27th 2013, 23:58 Report Abuse

  • Enjoy your blog ) my blog

    Posted by Frederick on Thu, May 16th 2013, 08:35 Report Abuse

  • L kara, I see you and im impressed! Good job people, all the best!

    Posted by . Kagiri on Fri, Apr 27th 2012, 15:56 Report Abuse

  • Great idea. All the best...

    Posted by Z. Gichuki on Mon, Apr 23rd 2012, 02:19 Report Abuse

  • Asanteni sana! Thank you, everyone!

    Posted by K. Kung on Sun, Apr 22nd 2012, 13:33 Report Abuse

  • ALL THE BEST my dear team from Kenya hope you get it!!!

    Posted by C. Nyambala on Sun, Apr 22nd 2012, 12:00 Report Abuse

  • goodluck guys

    Posted by W. Nyakwara on Sat, Apr 21st 2012, 03:15 Report Abuse

  • Thanks :)

    Posted by K. Kung on Thu, Apr 19th 2012, 00:44 Report Abuse

  • Good luck guys, you've got my vote!

    Posted by D. Lanius on Wed, Apr 18th 2012, 20:34 Report Abuse

  • Asante sana! We'd also be interested in hearing your story and work both in Haiti as well as Kenya. If you are interested in further dialogue, feel free to email us at Cheers, Kevin

    Posted by K. Kung on Sat, Feb 11th 2012, 17:28 Report Abuse

  • I am in...Once you complete this project, I would be interested in capitalizing on your knowledge and implementing the same project in Haiti. I worked in Kibera for 9 months 12 years ago and I am always happy to hear that Teams such as yours continue to contribute to the lives of people in Kibera. Holla if your need support of any kind

    Posted by N. KIMATHi on Sat, Feb 11th 2012, 12:28 Report Abuse

  • Thanks, Will!

    Posted by K. Kung on Thu, Feb 2nd 2012, 13:19 Report Abuse

  • Thanks so much for your work in both rural and urban Kenya. It is terribly important and deserves the serious attention you are giving it. Best, Will

    Posted by W. Ruddick on Thu, Feb 2nd 2012, 10:57 Report Abuse

  • Thanks, Norbert! ;)

    Posted by K. Kung on Sat, Jan 28th 2012, 05:44 Report Abuse

  • The initiative is good and comes at an opportune time. As we continue to battle with climate change, exigent environment challenges and solutions to affordable, clean cooking fuel, the vulnerable and marginalised groups around the world are left with more questions than answers. This project is relevant. Congrats !

    Posted by Norbert Aluku Okodoi on Thu, Jan 26th 2012, 05:11 Report Abuse

  • Thanks, Sneha! We look forward to working with you! Kevin

    Posted by K. Kung on Thu, Dec 29th 2011, 00:42 Report Abuse

  • Hi Team Takachar, Welcome to the IDEAS Competition and MIT Global Challenge! All the best. Looking forward to you're work. Let me know if you have any questions. Here to help.--Sneha Chitte(Community Manager, MIT Global Challenge)

    Posted by S. Chitte on Sat, Dec 24th 2011, 16:10 Report Abuse

  • Hi Ala'a, We sent several messages to you at If that didn't come through, perhaps you can give us another email address? Cheers, Kevin

    Posted by K. Kung on Wed, Nov 30th 2011, 20:09 Report Abuse

  • Hello! i am wondering if you still would like me to work with you. I have not received any e-mail from you... Where and when would you like to meet? Ala'a Siam.

    Posted by Ala'a Siam on Wed, Nov 30th 2011, 13:57 Report Abuse

  • I am available all through Thanksgiving (till Sunday). Otherwise, I will be happy to meet with you on Wednesday! Thanks!! Yours, Ala'a Siam

    Posted by A. Siam on Wed, Nov 23rd 2011, 23:55 Report Abuse

  • Hi Ala'a, Thanks for your interest in our project! Let us know if you'd like to meet to discuss. Otherwise, send us your email address and we can also add you to the group email list. Cheers, Kevin

    Posted by K. Kung on Wed, Nov 23rd 2011, 13:12 Report Abuse

  • Hello! I am a freshman interested in your project. I will double major in EE and biological engineering, while minoring in public policy. I tend to have extensive experience in public service, and I would like to work with you. Faithfully Yours, Ala'a Siam.

    Posted by A. Siam on Wed, Nov 23rd 2011, 12:54 Report Abuse

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