Oscar Aghan is an entrepreneur and the founder and chief executive officer at Continental Renewable Energy Co. Ltd (COREC), a Kenyan based company that recycles waste plastic into eco-friendly building material and sells the hardware to developers whose problem is high material cost. He explains to us his ideas and projects.
As a social entrepreneur his activities aim to generate change that positively impacts on society. Waste management addresses an enormous social and environmental challenge in Africa.
Aghan said: “In Africa, Kenya being one of the countries, is grappling with waste management seriously. When I saw an opportunity in waste, I identified a business opportunity because I pick up waste be it glass, be it plastic, be it food, be it tin or be it biomass and turn that waste into a useful domestic product, that is used at all levels and all cadres within the society.” His was a consciousness of the myriad opportunities that challenges offer, and that has defined his journey as a successful African social entrepreneur.
Aghan and his team’s efforts are yielding great fruits as one of his enterprises, Continental Renewable Energy Company-COREC, founded in 2012, has been ranked one of the largest plastic recyclers in East and Central Africa. COREC is plastic recycling enterprises but use different technology.
Aghan’s ventures are best placed to address the waste management problem because of their locality in the slums, his inspiration of addressing the bottom-line pyramid and the innovation that facilitates the turning of waste into useful products. This defines COREC competitive edge as selling cost for value, innovation and aesthetics. In time COREC has managed to grow value, develop market linkages and business networks that has seen it thrive in the waste management industry.
In realizing these successful ventures, Oscar Aghan’s inspiration was to turn garbage into affordable building material while creating youth employment along the value chain. He was also driven by the need of having people reside in a healthy environment. He maintains his focus on creating immense positive social impact and through his persistent drive, this has seen his enterprises lift over a million tonnes of plastic.
Aghan and his team have also created a value chain: an employment chain of over a thousand people, both men and women working day and night in his enterprises. In addition, through his professional background, he has managed to secure medical insurance cover for most of those who he works with and managed to introduce the previously poor youth to the banking fraternity so they are able to save and live dignified lives.
Certainly, the benefits of his enterprise have had ripple effects on the society as impoverished youth are turned into micro entrepreneurs. He has huge impact that has substantially contributed to sustainable development through industrialization, youth employment and climate change mitigation.
Aghan holds a MSc in Public Health and Project Management, an MBA in Certified Master Project Management and in Certified Professional Financial Management. His business, COREC holds a patent and a registered trade mark. He is the winner of the Sankalp Africa Award 2014, and is listed by Kenya’s Ministry of Housing as an appropriate technology material supplier.
There is still room for growth in the social entrepreneurial space in Africa, and so it is Aghan’s desire that in the future his social enterprises continue to expand through franchising models with different countries in Africa.
(Breda Achieng Okungu)