A Cambodian social business receives the International Ashden Award for Avoided Deforestation

Phnom Penh, May 27th 2014 – Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise (SGFE), a Cambodian social business which produces char-briquettes out of recycled waste, got rewarded by the prestigious International Ashden Award. An outstanding recognition for this innovative project launched in 2008 by two French NGOs: GERES and PSE. Thanks to this prize, SGFE hopes to continue its development and maximize its social and environmental impacts.

Carlo Figà Talamanca, owner and CEO of SGFE, was very proud to be on stage of the Royal Geographical Society in London, on 22nd of May, to receive the Ashden Award for Avoided Deforestation 2014, supported by Waterloo Foundation. Aside him, two of his Cambodian staff joined the trip and got to see Europe for the first time. A great way for Carlo to thank his loyal colleagues, without whom nothing would have been possible. SGFE is the third Cambodian organization winning this Award.

Already GERES, in 2006 for the work on improved cookstove dissemination. This new prize shows that Cambodia is leading the way in South-East Asia in using sustainable energy to improve people’s health and livelihoods and protecting the planet.

“By winning the Ashden Award, we have demonstrated that through innovation, with some daring and hard work, also small Cambodian businesses like SGFE can make a big difference in the international arena” says Carlo.

A company envisioned by two NGOs

Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise is the result of a successful project launched by the environmental NGO GERES – Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity –  in partnership with the social NGO PSE – Pour un Sourire d’Enfant -. A surprising yet efficient and fruitful project for both parties: SGFE provides stable jobs for the poor communities supported by PSE; and by offering an alternative to traditional charcoal, SGFE contributes to mitigate the environmental burden of charcoal consumption on Cambodian natural resources.

SGFE-Ashden-Award-2014 2In Cambodia, solid biomass amounts up to 84% of domestic cooking fuels. This demand for biomass fuels, combined with a lack of regulations, contributes to endanger Cambodian forests. Yet, the current charcoal consumption is expected to triple in the next 20 years. In urban areas, where wood collection is impossible, charcoal represents 30% of the energy used for cooking.

To tackle these issues, GERES envisions and develops technical solutions to propose alternative cooking fuels combining social benefits and environmental protection. In 2009, SGFE started manufacturing and selling char-briquettes. The resulting product offers a higher calorific value, emits less smoke, produces fewer sparks and burns twice as long as traditional charcoal.

After operating SGFE for 2 years, GERES seeks an independent entrepreneur to hand over the business. In January 2012, Carlo FIGÀ TALAMANCA, sees the great potential of this activity and decides to take up the challenge. He managed to make SGFE profitable in less than two years. Today, SGFE is the number 1 sustainable fuel producer and distributor in Cambodia, and with an average production of 40tons per month, it supplies a network of over 100 retailers and restaurants.

Since I started using the briquettes, I don’t want to cook with traditional charcoal anymore. This one emits less smoke and burns much longer.” Says user Lin Haiy.

GERES and PSE are both very proud of what SGFE has accomplished. The fact that two organizations, with very different missions, where able to jointly set up a development project where each of them could realize their mandate, was already a great success. But this initiative leading to the creation of an independent and viable business, while remaining consistent with the core values of its founders, is the finest example of a successful project: by adding economic benefits to the targeted social and environmental impacts, SGFE secures its sustainability of long term impacts.


The press release  |  The case study summary  |  The poster



Watch the Wifu project video on SGFE (partially in English)


Contacts us

Camille BENOIST, Communications officer at GERES
Tel : +855 (0)95 416 983
E-mail :

Tel: +855 (0)95 416 983


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