Sustainable Business Models for Informal Charcoal Producers in Kenya

Mutta, D and Mahamane, L and Wekesa, C and Kowero, G and Roos, A (2021) Sustainable Business Models for Informal Charcoal Producers in Kenya. Sustainability (TSI), 13 (6). pp. 1-17. ISSN 2071-1050

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The sustainable business model (SBM) concept requires enterprises to integrate sustainability aspects in their planning and operations. Although 60% of the global working population make their living in the informal sector mostly in low-and middle income countries, the potential for SBMs has rarely been analyzed for this category. This study explores the SBMs of informal charcoal-producing enterprises in coastal Kenya. It describes key business-model components: value proposition, value creation and delivery, and economic value capture. Impact and dependency on sustainability-related indicators were also studied. Data were obtained through individual interviews, focus-group discussions, and workshops for charcoal producers and other relevant stakeholders. Findings demonstrated that charcoal enterprises, despite their informal status, adopt elaborate business models. The incomes positively affect several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by reducing, if not eradicating, poverty and supporting basic livelihood needs. Examples of negative impacts on some SDG include the activity’s contribution to forest degradation. Feedback impacts, where SDG status influence the informal enterprises’ opportunities were also identified. The SBM model contributes to the development of a balanced sustainability transition of the charcoal sector. We suggest further analyses of the role of informal enterprises in the bioenergy sector for sustainable development and how their SBMs could be improved.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : East & Southern Africa
Research Program : West & Central Africa
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bioenergy, Business strategy, Green business, Livelihoods, Value chain
Subjects: Others > Livelihoods
Others > Value Chains
Depositing User: Mr Arun S
Date Deposited: 25 May 2021 11:20
Last Modified: 25 May 2021 11:20
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: The authors wish to thank charcoal value chain actors in Kwale and Taita Taveta counties for their participation and contribution with ideas and analysis. We are also grateful to the dedicated enumerators in Kwale and Taita Taveta counties who carried out the interviews. The constructive suggestions by three anonymous reviewers are gratefully acknowledged. The authors also received valuable comments from Björn Lundgren.
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