Africa ClimAccelerator Start-Up Spotlight: D-Olivette

Founded in February 2018, D-Olivette is a Nigerian company that manufactures domestic systems that convert waste into biogas, which is used for cooking and lighting, with the byproduct used as fertilizer.

The systems are known as Kitchen Box with the idea behind the innovation to provide affordable and efficient energy in rural Nigeria while mitigating environmental pollution and climate change.

Tunde Adeyemi, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, specialised in environmental studies and has dreamed of providing zero-waste solutions that could contribute to the conservation of nature and sustainability.

He was one of 15 entrepreneurs selected from an application pool of nearly 700 start-ups who participated in the Africa ClimAccelerator – first pan-African accelerator focused on scaling the most promising climate-focused innovations.

In 2018, Adeyemi visited a village of about 50,000 residents in rural Nigeria, where he observed that the mode of cooking was entirely dependent on firewood. It happened that his grandmother and mother dwelt in this small community – a second home to him.

“Long periods of exposure to smoke can cause serious health complications and I watched my grandmother and mother struggle with illness due to smoke exposure. She struggled with her health for quite some time without knowing the cause of the illness until it was confirmed to us by a doctor,” Adeyemi recalled.

Nigerian women and children bear the brunt of the harmful effects of indoor smoke produced by using open firewood stoves known as Adogan. The smoke affects eyesight and generally leads to deterioration of health.

As the solution provider he had always wanted to be, Adeyemi first thought of bringing solar power to his local community at risk.

“I found the installation of solar quite expensive and I had to quickly think of another means to help my community. After doing research, I thought of coming up with biodigesters to provide clean cooking to the community,” he said.

The biodigester works by converting organic waste into gas through degradation. One unit can generate at least three hours of electricity.

D-Olivette’s Kitchen Box Biodegster includes an app that helps users track the amount of biogas to anticipate, and calculate its cooking or electricity capacity and the expected output of fertiliser.

“You get to cook for free, get electricity, and cut over 90 per cent  of energy expenses for over 10 years while producing free fertiliser,” Adeyemi explained.

Operating in the southern part of Nigeria, the company has so far installed over 1,000 units of Kitchen Boxes in its rural settlement. This has helped thousands of families who live in the community to have biogas for cooking and power small home appliances. The Kitchen Box Biodigester ranges from 25 to 200 litres.

“We aim to provide ‘zero waste’ solutions by producing affordable and sustainable solutions and services in terms of quality, reliability, and performance to serve the domain of biogas, compost, and electrification and to translate our customised technologies into value for our customers, stakeholders, and the environment,” Adeyemi said.

D-Olivette Enterprise’s revenue is based on three pillars: biodigesters product sales, maintenance fees associated with servicing and upgrading biodigesters, and extended warranty fees and hardware support.

While the company largely operates in the southern part of Nigeria, its market has grown to Guinea Bissau. “The only challenge we have faced is the language barrier and currency, but we have managed to have wide market access in this area,” Adeyemi explained.

Five-thousand domestic biodigester systems will release zero-carbon emissions when producing 10 MWh of power and will produce an average of 2,729 kg of biogas annually. By 2026, the estimated sold products will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and carbon emissions by an estimated 2.1 million tons.

The Africa ClimAccelerator was designed to enhance the development and deployment of innovative technology to accelerate climate-positive business solutions for a net-zero Africa. From January to June 2022, programme was delivered by partner organisations GrowthAfrica and the Carbon Trust, supported by the Climate-KIC International Foundation and funded by the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (‘GIZ’) exclusively on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (‘BMZ’).

An original version of this article was published here on 5 April.