What you need to know:
- Company gives the job of collecting newspapers to young people, widows, and the disabled
- Mr Kirori says he supplies his products to selected schools and organisations who need branded pencils and pens from the firm.
- Green Pencils plans to distribute its eco-friendly pencils and pens to the entire Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region.
Determined to earn a living from a clean environment, Mr Anthony Kirori started a garbage collection business in Nairobi. Unknown to him, this would open doors to an idea that would see him create jobs for hundreds of people in a pencil firm.
“I started by collecting garbage for a number of city estates in Nairobi, which included Imara Daima, South C, and Kileleshwa as well as the CBD,” recalls Mr Kirori.
This venture would later inspire the idea of making charcoal briquettes from paper. He closed down the business after a year because it was not sustainable.
“It was an expensive venture and I had to end it because I could no longer sustain the business,” notes Mr Kirori.
This is when a new idea of “converting paper back to wood” came to mind.
Mr Kirori began soliciting for funds from friends to augment his savings and founded Green Pencils Ltd, where he is the managing director. The firm in Juja manufactures pencils from newspapers.
“My friends loaned me the money, some of which I am still repaying to date,” says Mr Kirori.
He has a team of people who go to various estates to collect old newspapers. The group includes young people, widows, and persons with disability.
“Their job is to collect old newspapers. Once they have collected enough, we come and buy them,” says Mr Kirori.
At the factory, the newspapers are taken through an 18-step process to come up with the finished product — pencil.
150 PENCILS DAILY
Mr Kirori says one person can make up to 150 pencils a day.
He adds that the fact that the country imports pencils “made of wood” means a tree has to be cut for them to be made. This, he warns, is not good for the future of the environment.
“When we use newspapers, we cut down the rate of tree-cutting for the purpose of making pencils and pens, which will play a big role in sustaining our environment,” he said.
Several efforts have recently been made in Kenya to conserve the environment, with the latest being the Nairobi county government’s move to partner with two German companies to come up with a solid waste management project.
The county government intends to generate 70 megawatts from 1,000 tonnes of the 2,000 tonnes of garbage collected daily in the city.
Nairobi County Governor Dr Evans Kidero said the project was aimed at creating more than 1,000 jobs per one million residents in its first phase and 250 directly on site in its second.
“The energy sector has been put forward as a key booster of Vision 2030. Our government will provide everything possible to ensure good implementation of this project,” said Dr Kidero.
Green Pencils plans to distribute its eco-friendly pencils and pens to the entire Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region.
Mr Kirori says the factory has the potential of creating more than 80,000 jobs directly if it gets the necessary support from the government and other stakeholders.
“If one person can make 150 pencils a day, while the country imports over 200 million pencils annually, then more than 2,400 people can make 100 million pencils in a year,” he said.
Venturing into the Comesa region, he said, would see the company transport old newspapers from member countries to be used as raw materials for these products, as well as create more markets for the Kenyan product.
“The trucks that transport goods to the Comesa region would bring back old newspapers, which would then be used to manufacture more pencils. We are talking about more than one billion pencils and three billion pens and coloured pencils,” he noted, adding that the opportunities were huge.
The firm also makes branded pencils and pens, a step further to market interested companies.
Mr Kirori says he supplies his products to selected schools and organisations who need branded pencils and pens from the firm.
“We brand environment-friendly pencils and pens which act as portable billboards in the hands of your prospective target market. Companies, Institutions, Schools and NGO’s are part of our clients,” reads a statement from the firm’s website which adds that the pencils are also ideal for Corporate Social Responsibility and can be donated to schools.
What’s unique about these products is that the manufacturing process has attracted men and a woman searching for employment since much of its work is handcrafted.
“With your instructions, we can make sample pencils and pens displaying your favourable designs and/or messages for your consideration and further discussion,” said Mr Kirori.