What Founder of Zaacoal, Sulley Amin, has been able to build over the years, is an internationally acclaimed charcoal company that has found an internationally standardized alternative to a common household fuel- Charcoal.
For several years, even centuries, Ghanaians have depended on firewood and charcoal as a source of household fuel. But this has increasingly become problematic to the health the Ghanaian woman who mostly does the cooking because of the thick dark smoke it gives off.
This already complicated situation is worsened by the fact that countless trees have to be cut in the production of charcoal and firewood for everyday consumption. a reason why Amin Sulley's Zaacoal makes a strong case for reduction in emissions and climate change.
Zaacoal is the name coined from two words " Zaafi" which means hot in Hausa and Coal which is an English word for a common household energy. This is a clean, smoke- free, effective alternative to charcoal and firewood, making it a ready- to- use product for the 85% of Ghanaians who depend on charcoal as a source of fuel.
Many are baffled about how a young law student will sacrifice his law fees to chase the dream of producing, packaging and marketing charcoal.
" I am a curious person. I think carefully about phenomena and resources around me, and how best they can be maximized."
It is with this sense of curiosity that Zaacoal was born.
" I was wondering what happens to coconut waste after the fruit is consumed. And true to my suspicions there was no proper waste management system to cater for the waste. I also found out that apart from plastic, the next biggest waste menace is coconut pods."
Amin's curiosity did not end there. He began to research into how this free raw material could be recycled into something profitable.
Armed with the knowledge that local women use the pods as a source of fuel as an accompaniment with firewood, Amin began to explore further advantages of coconut pods as a more refined and useful source of fuel.
"We began exploring the possibilities of using coconut pods as a more sustainable source of fuel but it wasn't easy. We burnt it, but all we got was ash, then we canonized it to prevent oxidation. That was when it worked. We got a pure form of charcoal, that was smokeless, burnt hotter, but lasted longer than the average charcoal from firewood."
At this point, Amin and his team of two, hit black gold!
They had gotten a product that was not only environmentally friendly, but a a viable commercial venture.
" We later found out that there's a solid market for charcoal and specifically. About 80% of Ghana's population uses charcoal or firewood. This is essentially the market we are looking at."
However, little did Amin know that there was an international market waiting to swallow up the clean charcoal invention for which no tree was killed to produce.
Amin got orders from all over the world; Dubai, the U.S, and other parts of Asia for his charcoal.
" We have contracts from all over asking for over hundreds of 40- feet containers worth of Zaacoal. That was our biggest motivation, knowing that something that started as a social good, is now a viable international product."
Amin and his team had to step up their marketing to challenge their foreign competition.
" One thing that aggravated us to step up our game most, was when we heard that Ghana imports charcoal from foreign countries. Out of all the things we import, charcoal must be the last of it. We decided to change that."
Scaling up and expanding production
Zaacoal intends to scale up massively to meet the huge demands they are getting. At the core of this desire, is the need for the requisite financing to provide the machinery and infrastructure needed to meet demand.
With the help of a benevolent uncle, however, who, looking at the huge orders Amin and his team already had, decided to give them a loan to acquire the needed machinery to scale.
" Now, we are ready to expand. We have acquired the needed machinery for a full production facility of 1000 tonnes a day."
That is the story of how curiosity and innovation made a prospective international morgul. Amin Sulley is the pride of every Ghanaian and Africa at large.