Practice English Speaking&Listening with: STEM Professional Tells Youth to Believe in Themselves

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My name is Chebet Lesan, and I live in Nairobi, Kenya.

I'm founder and CEO of a company called Bright Green Renewable Energy,

which deals in waste to fuel, different resources. And what we do in Nairobi, is we collect

different forms of rubbish and we transform it into a charcoal briquette.

Currently that's our main activity, but we look to to move into different

regions in Africa using different agricultural waste materials to produce

fuel briquettes for African homes and industries.

I went university in University of Nairobi, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya,

and I studied product design. So I'm a product designer, industrial designer.

I've always been very interested in technology so when i was in my fourth year of university

I was designing a book, a Braille book for blind students

for visually impaired students in Kenya.

And I came across a team from MIT that was working on a couple of technical projects and we got involved

together and a few a few months later we traveled to Tanzania, where we lived in a

community in the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro that had a very big problem with fuel.

So we developed a technology where we we would compress different forms of char.

Char is basically biomass that has been broken down into simpler forms of carbon,

and we would compress this and form a charcoal briquette for them.

So when I came back home I thought, "How can this project that I've learned about help my community?"

So we looked around at our different forms of waste that we have and we asked ourselves,

"How can we use this waste to develop a fuel for these Nairobians?"

because currently they were having very many issues with charcoal production.

I mean, the deforestation of the country's at an alarming rate,

So we decided to go into this project basically to improve lives of people and

to save deforestation and provide a cheaper, alternative source of fuel.

The interesting thing about our factory is we make everything from waste.

So it's a hundred percent designed and built, fabricated in Kenya.

And what we did, we came up with a way to compress the charcoal, to compress the material we had

into something solid and firm that we could sell to our clients.

So we're very proud of the fact that the machine was made at home, and it was not easy.

We had very many challenges, but we were very focused on making sure that this

machine was built in Kenya, to prove a point, to say that we can actually also do this

and something very interesting what about our machinery is it made from scrap metal.

It's made from used gears and everything is made from waste of another production.

So it's very interesting to note that our raw material is waste,

our production is waste, and the entire production line is made out of waste material.

And this is just to make the product more authentic and more green

in every way that we possibly can.

Being a woman in the technology field, I must say it wasn't easy

because my background is not in engineering, but however I had a vision

and I needed to see this vision come to life.

I believe in the youth of Kenya, I believe in the youth of my Nairobi,

and that's why I approached them to help me to solve this problem that I was having,

which was trying to create a machine.

However, one of the things I noticed very early on was many of them felt incapable

of actually doing this and they felt that I should actually buy the machine from somebody.

And I had to work with them continuously to engage

them in the design process, and our first machine didn't work

our second machine didn't work, our third machine didn't work.

It's actually the fourth machine that we had a breakthrough with,

And now it produces up to three tons every day, so we're very proud of ourselves.

One of the challenges for me was working as a woman in a male-dominated industry,

and i must say it wasn't easy, but as women we need to continuously lean in

and encourage ourselves to be able to participate in careers that we previously were not accustomed to.

As a woman you need to understand your potential in this society

because many times we are mad to believe that certain things

certain careers and certain paths are meant for men, but we actually are

capable of doing it, as I mentioned, if we put our minds through it.

One way I would encourage women to do is to lean into more more of this technologies, lean into engineering.

Search yourself, look at what's going on out there and engage

yourself with other women in the same field and learn more from them.

That's the only way as women that we're going to move forward and encourage each other

to be the best that we can be. personally am a leader in my company i'm

I, personally, am a leader in my company,

I'm the visionary behind everything and I have to be able to work with different people,

both men and women to be able to enable them to to to see my vision and bring it to life.

So as women I would like to encourage you to move forward with whatever you need to do.

Put your mind into it. There's nothing for men, there's nothing for women.

It's all for us. As long as you set your mind to it, you can do it.

I must say to everyone who wants to go into science, technology, engineering and math

that you must believe in yourself.

I've just come from a talk with Obama and one thing that came out very clearly is "yes we can."

We can do anything that we put our minds to, so don't be frightened

by the challenges that may seem to loom. You must focus your mind on the goal

and every every hiccup that you hit along the road, take it as a learning step,

take it as a learning stone and use it to make yourself and what you want to do better.

Always believe in yourself, no matter what you do.

Every day, talk to yourself, encourage yourself,

and ensure that your mind always believes that it can do what it puts its mind to.


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