Zaacoal is Green Energy for Impact with No Single Tree Suffering for it.
Zaacoal is an awarding winning innovative startup company proving to be Africa’s contribution to the reduction of global warming and a cleaner society. In the world’s quest to finding answers to how it manages climatic change, this founder has just solved the puzzle from an African perspective. As many households continue to depend largely on charcoal from cut down trees to provide for their energy needs, this company turns biodegradable wastes to smokeless, odorless and environmentally friendly fuel for cooking and other heat needs.
Have you thought of how the smoke inhaled when cooking using charcoal affects the human system causing respiratory illnesses? Amazingly whiles producing clean energy, Zaacoal is effectively getting rid of waste in our communities. Even at its early stage, Zaacoal is gaining significant recognition that should propel it to the next phase of growth.
Come into the refreshing world of the energy behind this fast growing company, a humble and futuristic young man in Ghana as he discusses his company and business.
Can you kindly tell Africa who you are?
Sulley Amin Abubakar is the founder of Zaacoal, a green energy from waste business. I am a final year LLB student of the University Of London International Programs. A graduate from the University for Development Studies with a BA in Integrated Community Development Studies. And also an MBA Candidate from the Catholic University of Milan (Altis E4impact).
What is this disruptive product you have introduced into the market and why should consumers care about Zaacoal?
Zaacoal is green charcoal from waste. Ghana is blessed with a lot of resources and lots of waste, most of which include organic waste and plastics. Our disruptive product “Zaacoal” is a merger of two words, a Hausa word for hot “Zaafi” and Charcoal which literally means “hot coal.” So what we do is to collect organic waste in the city and convert them into smokeless, high energy and long burning charcoal.
Superb! What challenges necessitated the production of Zaacoal and how is it different from the traditional charcoal used for decades?
Growing up in the Brong Ahafo region, I used to go to farm with my grandmother, the headache wasn’t the activity on the farm but the carrying of firewood to be used for cooking was. I remember we had to carry heavy loads on our heads for long distances. And the next challenge was getting the fire up. This could take hours and several tactics just to get our fire lit.
So I decided to develop an alternative source of fuel for our households that will be convenient, affordable and accessible with Zaacoal. It comes in various types, there’s Zaacoal regular, Zaacoal quick light and Zaacoal for shisha. We are also setting up a facility to produce activated charcoal for various industries.
As Zaacoal is a novelty product, how are you marketing it to gain more market acceptance from people who largely depend on wood charcoal and other forms of energy?
Our mantra is to use “Less For More.” We are marketing Zaacoal for its cost efficiency and effectiveness of the product. So let’s say with about ten pieces of Zaacoal briquette, you could have your banku served.
Can you highlight some structures you are putting in place to allow Zaacoal stand the test of time?
First, our aim is to impact lives, we believe if we are able to save our trees, we will be able to save our own lives. Remember when the last tree dies, the last man ….
Who are your target clients and how do they place orders?
We have a website ready for orders. We are looking to integrate mobile money platforms for customers to make orders. Our site will soon have Visa, Master Card and other card services on it to facilitate online sales. We do free deliveries within Accra-Ghana, we are also targeting hotels, restaurants and night clubs (Shisha charcoal) but individual households are our main focus.
What is the vision of your company and what is your philosophy for doing business?
Our vision is “to be the leader in green energy solutions in Ghana and Africa.”
You have got a distinct package for your product. Why is that necessary for you since we know how locals serve charcoal?
We are looking at ridding our city off waste, so we chose a biodegradable material to package Zaacoal. It comes packed from 5 kg to 10 kg for industries and households. We also want to make our product attractive enough to have them in the biggest of shopping malls and all classes of society.
You had a brilliant business concept, how did you raise initial startup capital to surge on with your idea?
That wasn’t easy at all. I first used my law school fees to fund and test the idea. I virtually spent everything I had on me to get a prototype sample out, it was this sample that got family to support. I seriously needed funding to get into the market.
Who is your mentor and how is mentorship helping you build a superb brand?
I read a lot about the late Steve Jobs in the late 90’s before the iPod and I love everything about him. I can boldly say he had a positive impact on my life and still does, may he rest in peace. I have shifted gear to Elon Musk of Tesla motors, Space X and PayPal.
He has been a mentor from afar. But my biggest mentor and inspiration has been my mum, she is a very strong woman and a great pillar behind me. I am looking forward to being the next Aliko Dangote and grace the cover of the Forbes Magazine, I know it’s not an easy task but I will surely get there.
Are there previous job or life experiences you are applying to your company to realize success?
My research background from the university for development and being an entertainment personality also helped me in networking, my community development experience thought me how to deal with people from all backgrounds.
What advice is there for fellow Africans who will like to be successful in this industry?
My only advice my fellow Africans, is to embrace peace. Let’s be the ambassadors of this great continent, let’s be the beacon of hope for the continent and eschew acts of violence and hatred.
The solutions to our problems are very close to us, let’s look within and we shall find them.
As a founder, will you concede you have made mistakes and what lessons have you learnt?
I have made a lot of mistakes and these have made me the person I am today. Mistakes are there to strengthen and straighten our paths.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered as an African startup and how are you dealing with them?
The usual biggest challenge is funding, I may be fortunate to have strong family who have helped me with some initial funding, but the chunk of the needed capital is yet to be raised. lol
How will you pitch Zaacoal to a potential investor?
Zaacoal is long lasting, higher energy charcoal from renewable sources. Zaacoal products are affordable, accessible and impactful.
Is being an entrepreneur rewarding yet for you?
Very rewarding. Waking up to solve a problem is very fulfilling for me. I am one person who never wanted to write an application for job. I have always wanted to be an employer than an employee and achieving that is my greatest reward.
What will be your final message to aspiring African entrepreneurs and your loyal customers?
Africa (Ghana) is all we have let us make it greater and stronger. Let us see the challenges as opportunities. We will solve all our problems.
Thank you, Amin.
Your own idea can also positively be impacting the lives of many in your society. Start from somewhere today and you could be the next Zaacoal out of Africa. See you at the top!
What lessons have you picked from this inspiring African startup founder? Share your thoughts.
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