Green energy entrepreneur talks conquering fear and building a strong team

Tom Osborn is the founder of Greenchar, a for-profit social enterprise in Kenya producing charcoal briquettes made from agricultural waste. Osborn has been named as one of Forbes’ global ’30 under 30′ social entrepreneurs, and in 2014 was selected as an Anzisha Prize Fellow.

Tom Osborn
Tom Osborn

Earlier this year we invited our Facebook fans to ask Tom their questions on business and entrepreneurship. Below are edited excerpts.

Have you had any challenges with your staff starting their own green charcoal briquette companies?
Challenges are a part of every business, more so in the start-up phase. However to stop our staff from starting their own business they sign a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and a non-compete for two years. However we try to make our workplace great by motivating our staff.

I want to know how you do what you do? What really drives you? And finally, why did you choose to be a social entrepreneur?
The reason why I am an entrepreneur is because I believe that entrepreneurship is a problem solving tool that can spur social, economic and environmental change within our continent.

Social entrepreneurship provides me with the perfect platform to make positive change while also building a sustainable business. In my opinion, that is key to growth within the African continent.

What drives me every day is my belief that every household deserves access to clean energy, and every day I get closer to realising that dream and that spurs me.

What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur?
My biggest challenge as an entrepreneur is building a strong team that believes in what I am doing and the vision that I have for this organisation. I try as much as possible to get the right people around me but I still don’t have a blueprint for it yet. Let’s say I am still learning how to tackle it.

How where you able to conquer the fear of going after your dream? At the moment this is what’s holding me back.
The only way you can conquer your fear of being what you want to be is by actually going out there and doing something about it. If you believe in your dream and if it will give you fulfilment, then don’t delay your happiness. The journey is going to be hard but you will be content every single day of your life.

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