Coconut shell-based charcoal salvages one business and creates another
An abundance of coconuts and a community’s penchant for sweets led many enterprising entrepreneurs in Dagupan City, Philippines, to gravitate to the production of bukayo. For years this coconut and sugar-based treat was a popular and profitable item, but like many trends, excitement over bukayo eventually waned. This, along with increasing cost to make the candy, meant these entrepreneurs were now stuck in a losing venture. They desperately needed a better means to make their living.
The Enactus team at the University of Luzon saw the way to make bukayo more cost-effective rested in the cooking fuel. This led them to explore alternative options using abundant resources in the community, specifically coconuts. The team determined coco charcoal briquettes – made from coconut shells, paper and animal waste – would not only make use of available items in the community, it would also be a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly alternative to the wood fuel traditionally used. Just as beneficial, this innovative form of fuel could supply more than half of the city’s business centers and generate a new source of income for these struggling individuals.
The team started by teaching 10 of the candy makers how to create the coco charcoal, including the process of carbonizing the raw materials to mixing, binding, drying and packaging the new product. Next, they worked with this group to determine a competitive price for the briquettes and establish a market for them with existing industries. To further ensure these individuals were set up for lasting success, the team presented lectures and seminars on bookkeeping, production management and supply and demand analysis.
As a result of Project RISE, bukayo production is no longer a dying venture. Even more impressive, the effort’s newly-created coco charcoal product has saved 86,667 cubic meters of wood fuel, reduced carbon emissions and made it possible for a group of entrepreneurs who were once wrestling with affording everyday necessities to increase their incomes by 60 percent.