Otago

PROBLEM:

Traditional charcoal produced from illegally logged wood remains the principal source of energy for cooking in urban areas in Cambodia. The charcoal market in Phnom Penh is estimated to be around 100,000 tonnes of charcoal per year. Total consumption in the country is estimated to be double this amount.

SOLUTION:

OTAGO mass‑produces an alternative to traditional charcoal called char‑briquettes, which are cost‑effective, smokeless and fully renewable. OTAGO’s char‑briquettes have two primary raw materials. First is coconut shells, which OTAGO sources from local wet markets. Second is bio‑char sourced from biomass gasification plants 100km from Phnom Penh.

IMPACT THESIS

ADB Ventures SEED grant supported the expansion of sales to two additional provinces, increasing sales to at least five tonnes per month. In addition, the grant supported a feasibility study of regional expansion to two additional Southeast Asian countries.

ABOUT

OTAGO is a Cambodia‑based company that seeks to protect forests from charcoal‑driven deforestation while simultaneously uplifting underserved communities. The business focuses on the production and sale of char‑briquettes made from renewable biomass residues, such as coconut shells. At the time of ADB’s grant, the company employed 42 people of whom 17 (~40 per cent) were women.

Target Impact:

Climate Mitigation, Financial Inclusion & Gender Equality

Manufacturer of sustainable, smokeless char‑briquettes for street food vendors and small restaurants.