Was I Dumb to use my Law Fee for Zaacoal? A tale of Sulley Amin Abubakar
I remember her. Yes! Grandma… with her sprinkles of Grey hair. With her already feeble hands and shoulder she would mount the pile of freshly cut firewood. We trailed behind her like the network of ants with our little bundles of fours and fives. Truly, I didn't feel tired by the amount of farm clearing I had done. No! These ripples of sweat were different and they were from the little but heavy bundle mounted on my head.
Year in year out this was our daily routine. There was no room for complaint which will be welcomed by the usual response “if you don’t fetch the wood then you will starve”. This statement already made my mouth sore before dinner was served in my very little bowl which I felt was not due compensation for the work done.
Even though it sounded like I was ungrateful, I really couldn't wait to leave the house for studies. At least I won’t have to bear my daily routine of collecting firewood to cook meal but that wasn't really the point. As months turned to years I had observed a new frailness with grandma. Her eyes were looking dim and she seemed to be squinting at everything. What could have caused this? I mean… I still enjoyed her being around me and the smiles from her beautiful gap tooth. Oh yes! I figured it’s the dammed firewood smoke which popped up as we struggled to light the fire. I could swear I also felt pin-pricks around my eye but I didn't feel them very often.
I finally left home…pheewwww…..with a huge sigh of relief. I started school at the University for Development Studies and graduated with a BA in Integrated Community Development Studies. Fortune smiled at me and I got into the University Of London International Programs for Law (LLB). Lest I forget, I am also an MBA Candidate from the Catholic University of Milan (Altis E4impact). Ambitious isn't it?
Okay back to the gist. My terrible experience pushed me to figure out a new cooking remedy which wouldn't have to stress grandma anymore and so with the very timely hype of Climate Change and Green Energy, I figured just the right solution.
Come to think of it I thought to myself, homeland Ghana generates as much waste as it has natural resources and so I sought to gather up biodegradable waste, and turn it to smokeless, odorless and environmentally friendly fuel for cooking and other heat needs. I guess you’re wondering how waste products can become odorless….I thought so myself.
My name is Sulley Amin Abubakar and I am the brain behind Zaacoal! Cool as that introduction sounds, it didn't come that easily as I was also faced with the hard rocks of life in my quest to be different.
The intention was to solve a problem and so I decided to develop an alternative source of fuel for our households that will be convenient, affordable and accessible with Zaacoal (green coal). It comes in various types, there’s Zaacoal regular, Zaacoal quick light and Zaacoal for shisha. It wasn't easy at all. I first used my law school fees to fund and test the idea. I virtually spent everything I had on me to get a prototype sample out, it was this sample that got family to support. I seriously needed funding to get into the market. I may be fortunate to have strong family who have helped me with some initial funding, but the chunk of the needed capital is yet to be raised. I have made a lot of mistakes and these have made me the person I am today. As I would always say “Mistakes are there to strengthen and straighten our paths”.
Surely it was a good thing I went to school. My research background from the University for Development and being an entertainment personality also helped me in networking, my community development experience thought me how to deal with people from all backgrounds.
We hope to join the climate change clean-up by impacting lives, and saving our trees, which on the long run will contribute to saving our own lives.
We have a website ready for orders. We are looking to integrate mobile money platforms for customers to make orders. Our site will soon have Visa, Master Card and other card services on it to facilitate on-line sales. We do free deliveries within Accra-Ghana.
Although for large commercial purpose we target hotels, restaurants and night clubs (Shisha charcoal) but individual households are our main focus.
Our packaging which is also made from biodegradable waste comes in 5 kg to 10 kg for industries and households.
Did I mention that I will like to be the next Aliko Dangote of Africa and grace the cover of Forbes magazine? Oh yes! I do and I know with hard work I will get there.
On a final note to young dreamers like myself, we should always remember that “The solutions to our problems are very close to us, let’s look within and we shall find them”.
Story by Eruke Ojuederie