Chebet Lesan

Founder and CEO of BrightGreen Energy

An industrial designer, environment enthusiast, and advocate for technology that uplifts underserved communities, Chebet Lasan’s company, BrightGreen Energy manufactures fuel blocks that are economical, reduce deforestation, and develop other women’s entrepreneurship.

“I’m trying to create a solution that will outlive me.”

Kenya has used up 98% of the country’s indigenous forests, much of it for heating and cooking. Chebet got the inspiration for BrightGreen as part of an International Development Design Summit (IDDS) team working in rural Tanzania. Her company manufactures fuel blocks from urban or farm waste on machines that were made from recycled parts. It is estimated that her product, Moto, saved 800 tons of trees in Kenya by the end of 2017. 

“I coexist quite comfortably with fear by my side.”

She says it’s ok to be scared because most of the time she is taking on big challenges. She advises entrepreneurs to look for advice that builds you.

“Women need to be in every single development conversation.” 

Lesan chooses to distribute her fuel via women entrepreneurs. She told IREX, “As a woman, you need to understand your potential in society.”  She says attention to women’s leadership is the first thing needed and what follows is investment. What follows is policies and the environment that allows women to succeed. 

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/    When many women are leaders it changes policies, politics, and economies.   /

Kenya needs investment in women leaders

Kenya’s constitution states that at least one third of elected bodies should be made up of women. This is important because research indicates that when governments have 30% female representation they are more likely to enact policies that promote equality in the workplace. 

However, women hold less than a quarter of seats in government. Perception matters. Both women and men have significant prejudice against women’s suitability for leadership, according to the Reykjavik Index for Leadership.

The Index was established to quantify levels of comfort in society with the prospect of female leadership. Kenya’s score is 53. (A score of 100 indicates complete agreement that men and women are equally suited to leadership.) Kenyan women earn 32% less than men.

Kenyan women earn 32% less than men.

The scores for the younger age groups are higher in Kenya, both men and women aged 18-34 are more likely than those in the older age bracket (55-65) to think that men and women are equally suitable to lead. Investment in women like Chebet Lasan is important because BrightGreen Energy is addressing sustainability challenges in Kenya. Chebet Lasan demonstrates with her work the importance of policies that invest in women leaders. 

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