Business Opportunity Assessment
Project: Local demand for fuel in El Nido had been leading to increased illegal harvesting of the mangrove forests, essential breeding habitats for fisheries upon which the local population depend for subsistence and livelihoods. There were questions as to whether legal charcoal production could improve operations and profitability and whether or not charcoal feedstocks could be shifted away from mangrove forests to more ecologically sustainable sources. At the same time, local agriculture was rudimentary and fairly unproductive, providing limited income to small holder farmers. The SGE Immersion team analyzed the opportunity for establishing a profitable business in which farmers would be able to utilize agricultural waste as a charcoal feedstock that could be sold, collected, and manufactured into smokeless briquettes. Similar models in Africa and the Philippines suggested the existence of technologies which could also allow farmers to benefit from the production and use of bio-char in the charcoal-making process which could be used to improve soil structure, agricultural productivity, and improve farming incomes.