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This Entrepreneur Is Gradually Making Mary Kom’s Village Smoke Free Through Clean Energy Solutions

Albert Zamal’s start-up Zougam Institute for Community Resources & Development (ZICORD) deals with machine and tools for production of briquettes and stoves. The technology is simple, applicable, and low cost for briquetting fuel from waste biomass. It was one of the 11 enterprises being currently incubated under the ICCO Group B.V’s subsidiary Innovative Change Collaborative Services Pvt Ltd (ICCSPL)-GIZ Clean Energy Program and has impacted nearly 5000 households, provided employment to 22 women for producing mass briquettes in the last one year.

THE BEGINNING

In 1997, while pursuing a course in community development and planning at Centre for Development Studies and Activities in Pune, Albert recalls he was tasked to do a lot of practical assignments on community mobilization. As a meritorious student he was also given an opportunity to pursue his higher studies in Bangkok, but destiny had different plans set up for him.

“I wanted to come to my home-state Manipur to mobilize development workers to stand for their rights and lead a dignified life. This led to the launch of ZICORD. Our existence was dependant on subsistence economy model that time. But after setting up ZICORD, I wanted to change that and shift the focus to entrepreneurship and innovation driven approach so that people have better livelihood opportunities and can stand up for their own rights”, Albert says.

Albert closely works with local communities to find innovative local solutions to solve local and global issues.

VENTURING INTO CLEAN ENERGY SPACE

Three years back in 2015, ZICORD ventured into providing machine and tools for production of briquettes and stoves.

“We are making products local people admire and respect. We need opportunities to grow and funds to scale up our venture”, says Albert.

Today, Albert is assiduously working to make Mary Kom’s village Longar smoke free. ZICORD has provided 400 houses with cook-stoves and mass briquettes for cooking and heating during winters. They intend to reach out to other 1000 households very soon. Several capacity building and sensitization program are already been conducted to reach out to more households.

This is not the only area the organization operates in. It has strong presence in Games Village (Langol), Saparmeina, Kangpokpi, Lamdeng, Churachandpur of Manipur.

Through its interventions, ZICORD has provided cook-stoves and briquettes to nearly 10,000 households, employed 112 members of five SHG groups and through them 1300 people have become vendors in the different blocks of its operational areas.

LOCAL SOLUTIONS FOR GLOBAL PROBLEMS

Albert says he is very clear on his work philosophy. “We work bearing in mind the traditional ways and culture and tweak our solutions and resources around it. We do a lot of door-to-door awareness campaigns to sensitize community. Now, we need to go from households to community, community to line departments of Governments and sensitize them to use these local solutions”, he says.

THE BUSINESS MODEL

ZICORD has an assembling unit making machine and tools for briquettes from waste bio-mass (forestry waste and agri waste) and municipal solid waste. We sell them through SHGs.  ZICORD is responsible for making user friendly products, do capacity building of SHGs enabling them to sell it to local markets. The organization is currently sustaining on self-generated funds.

FUTURE PLANS

We want to scale up our existing solutions with adequate funding and also diversify our business and venture into pellet making and enhance our beneficiary from 50,000 households to a lakh in two years. We are trying to get funds worth INR 60 lakhs for both these activities.

MESSAGE TO THE BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS

Look, learn and practice. Look at creating a solid base for the community and enable them to be self-dependent.

MESSAGE FOR ICCSPL

We are truly grateful to ICCSPL for helping us in incubation phase, providing us with relevant exposure and also actively looking at funding sources. We are in discussions with NEDfi at the moment, and are exploring avenues for getting funds from other banks.

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