Collins Pondi, 32

Founder

Pomilly East Africa
My Story

To strangers, the founder of Pomilly East Africa is your typical guy in the street.

Yet beneath this stillness is a ferocious fire of ambition and desire to change Kenya and the world, one tonne of food waste at a time.

Collins studied advanced agriculture technology at Israel’s Arava Training Institute before doing a Master’s degree in biochemical engineering at the National University of Singapore.

He believes his integrity and openness to gain different experiences have fuelled his passion to work towards a better world.

"Overuse of fertiliser has affected our soils with reduced yields as a consequence. Using organic fertiliser not only protects the environment but enhances food security."

He is a biomechanical engineer and a bacteriologist and is the owner of Pomilly East Africa, a company that converts food waste into fertiliser, fabrics and medicine.

His plant in Kilifi County has an installed capacity to recycle 80 tonnes of waste per day. Soon, Pomilly hopes to produce energy from incinerating food waste. One of the products that he manufactures is organic fertiliser.

‘‘Overuse of fertiliser has affected our soils with reduced yields as a consequence. Using organic fertiliser not only protects the environment but enhances food security,” he says.

On the lowest moment in his life, Collins refers to an incident as a student in Singapore when he starved for days while his next-door neighbour had a lot of food to spare.

‘‘I could not ask him to share his food with me since I did not know him well. I suffered in silence. Many foreign students go through this,’’ he says.

It is this experience that fuelled his ambition. “It does not make sense to have some people with more food than they need and wasting it while many others go hungry. I hope to create a balanced world free of hunger and zero waste.”

But he is not stopping at just food security. The landscape of carbon emissions, and the attendant threat to humanity, is one he understands well.

‘‘The carbon footprint of food waste is the third highest of all emitters. This is more than any First World country produces.’’ By recycling food waste into products, he says the world will be cleaner.

He says what his company is doing has multiple economic and environmental benefits: ‘‘We waste a lot of food at both the household and retail level. This food waste can be used as a resource to develop many products.’’

James Kahongeh