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Slaughterhouse odour gave birth to my company

By Milliam Murigi
Thursday, February 13th, 2020
Daniel Wanjuki, founder EcoSave Africa. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA
In summary
    • EcoSave Africa Ltd is based in Kitengela.
    • A litre of Ecotreat can be used for a year to handle waste for a single person.
    • Ecotreat is an organic product with no chemicals added.
    • He attended Ndururumo Secondary School and later studied BSc Botany and Zoology at Egerton University (1990- 1993).
    • Favourite quote: Giving nature a fighting chance, working for nature pays more than cash.

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

Having lived in the city for more than a decade, Daniel Wanjuki, EcoSave Africa proprietor hadn’t encountered pungent odours. 

However, upon expiry of his contract with Safaricom as a Simu Ya Jamii operator in 2006, he went back home to Kitengela.

His house was next to Kitengela slaughterhouse and the odour from the facility made his life unbearable. It was bad to the extent that one couldn’t stay in the house during the day. 

As a trained microbiologist, he decided to put his knowledge into practice to see if he could come up with a product to control the smell.  

He approached the slaughterhouse management and he was given a controlling order.

He was to get rid of the odour if he had a product capable of doing so. Armed with Sh50,000 he started work at his backyard. 

“I started with harvesting live bacteria from the slaughterhouse wastewater, which I was confident would decompose the waste and deal with the stench.

I also isolated bacteria and started trials at the slaughterhouse. The stench gradually stopped and my earlier assertion was confirmed,” he says. 

Frustrated and disappointment

This led to the birth of Ecotreat and EcoSave Africa Ltd, a company with a major interest in effluent and wastewater management in Africa.

 “The product managed to control the odour; it was a breakthrough. I thought it was my turning point, but I was wrong. I expected the facility to start using my product —it never happened,” he says. 

  Frustrated and disappointed Wanjuki trained someone on how to make it and together they started selling it to his neighbours. In January 2007, he relocated abroad to look for greener pasture.

One year later, he came back home and decided to concentrate on his business.

The returns he got from the business while I was away exceeded the salary he earned while abroad. 

“I was getting around Sh150,000 every month from the product and I earning Sh120,000.

This made me realise the product had business potential. That is when I decided to come back home and give it my best. So far I have no regrets,” says Daniel. 

Surprisingly, he found the slaughterhouse was closed because of bad odour. The place had turned into a breeding ground for Marabou storks, which affected air routes.

Additionally, water that pooled in the area was becoming a nuisance to the community.  

He approached the management for the second time and after using EcoTreat, they were able to clear the mess.

This convinced authorities such as the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and Kenya Airport Authority that the place can be habitable again, leading to its reopening.

Solid formulation

With the positive feedback, Wanjuki approached regulatory bodies intending to register the product.

However, things didn’t work as expected because the regulatory bodies couldn’t approve his product, as experts then didn’t see any potential for it. They dismissed his idea.

“Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate (Kephis) gave me a go-ahead, but when I went to Nema, they requested for an Environment Impact Assessment and it was my responsibility to hire an auditor.

Those I approached dismissed the idea, saying the product couldn’t be approved,” he explains. 

   Being a man who doesn’t give up so easily, he enrolled for an Environmental Science Master’s degree at Egerton University to understand environment management better and to also qualify as an Environment Impact Assessor.

All this while, EcoTreat was in the market although unregistered and it was doing well.

 Luckily in 2009, former Environment Minister, the late John Michuki started a campaign to clean Nairobi River, and since slaughterhouses were the main contributors Wanjuki was requested to partner with the slaughterhouses with his solution. He partnered with two, who remain to be his client until today. He also got experts who audited the product and in 2010 Nema approved EcoTreat.

“EcoTreat is a micro-organism based product, which assists in breaking down organic waste including fats, carbohydrates, grease and proteins to produce an end product that is predominantly water and nutrients, which can be recycled or disposed of in the environment,” Wanjuki says.

The product eliminates odour emanating from wastewater collection points and soak ways. It does not produce methane gas, thus it is environmentally friendly.

It can be used for septic tanks, schools and institutions, municipal sewer lines, residential and commercial estates, slaughterhouses and organic waste generating industries while controlling any other odour that arises. 

Currently, EcoTreat has been embraced well in Kenya and other East African countries. A litre goes for Sh1,000. They also have a solid formulation for the export market.

The company has 12 employees and various agents to ensure the product is available everywhere. 

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