In 2012, serial entrepreneur Alan Paul established Eco Fuels Kenya (EFK) to explore the potential of croton, following early research that suggested promise. His company is now the driving the movement to bring croton biofuel to the mainstream.
The business took a low-key approach at first, in contrast to high-budget flops such as jatropha.
“(Paul) said we can grow organically by sourcing what is already there from one of the most common trees,” says EFK Managing Director Myles Katz. “We can buy nuts from farmers so they get an income and we have a business model that does not require $10 million of funding and a big plantation to get off the ground.”
EFK put out radio ads to attract local entrepreneurs into partnerships, who assembled teams of smallholders to supply the nuts. When suppliers realized their previously useless trees had become an easy and reliable source of income, the network rapidly expanded.
This has enabled EFK to double production each year, says Katz, up to 1,000 tons of nuts this year from 500 tons in 2015. The company is now in a position to scale up the operation, without having planted a single tree.