While on a visit to Tanzania, Chebet Lesan was shocked by the level of environmental degradation around Mt Kilimanjaro.
The magnitude of deforestation in the region was mind-boggling, thanks to a growing appetite for charcoal.
It is this desperate situation that gave Ms Lesan, 27, a brainwave; to find an alternative source of energy and help conserve the environment.
That is how she founded Bright Green Renewable energy, an enterprise that uses paper and agricultural waste to make charcoal.
Her idea was bright, so bright that her efforts have been recognised by Queen Elizabeth II.
Her idea, which has been termed one of the best approaches to conserving the environment, also made her bag the Mandela Washington Fellowship, which enabled her to network with other bright minds.
Lesan is one of the three innovative Kenyans who have just received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for transforming lives in their communities.
The others are Domitila Chesang and Towett Ngetich.
Ms Chesang, 28, was recognised for her fight against Female Genital Mutilation and early marriages. Her work in West Pokot has saved many young girls from FGM and ensured they go to school.
Chesang has been part of Guardian’s global campaign against FGM, a programme launched in 2014 by United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Mr Ngetich, 21, is the brains behind uthabiti.org, a healthcare mobile application that links patients to certified medical consultants.
The social enterprise is dedicated to the fight against counterfeit medicines and health products in pharmacies and stores.
In his website, Ngetich explains that he launched the website after he read a World Health Organisation report on low accessibility of essential medicines in all developing countries.
Uthabiti creates a one-stop shop where patients can log into a mobile app and consult a registered and certified medical doctor.
The doctor goes ahead and attaches a medical prescription, sick notes or referrals to the patient’s cart.
The patient further has the option of logging into the “find a pharmacy” portal and buy drugs from pharmacies registered by Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Kenya.
Winners of this prestigious award will receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking.
This will help them to continue and develop the work they are already doing in their communities.
The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged between 18-29 years from across the Commonwealth with leading projects in tackling global issues including education, climate change, gender equality, mental health, disability and equality.
“We received thousands of applications from across Commonwealth countries, from exceptional young people striving to improve their communities and driving change on a wide range of issues,” The Royal Commonwealth Society website stated.
Each year from 2014 to 2018, 60 inspirational young people are selected to receive the award.
Those honoured become ‘Queen’s Young Leaders’; one for every year that The Queen had served as Head of the Commonwealth by the time of her Diamond Jubilee.