In 2006, Dinesh Tembhekar left his lucrative job at the United Nations Development Programme to starthis own business.
“Even though it wasn’t easy to leave the comfort zone, I decided to take entrepreneurship as a challenge and face it,” he says. Having spent years training organisations on how to continuously improve their productivity, Mr Tembhekar says it was only natural for him to establish an enterprise in the same field.
He began with a small office at his home and hired a secretary to assist with administrative duties. But the business didn’t pick well for close to two years. “I got a few contracts from companies in need of my services,” he says.
As all this was happening, Mr Tembhekar was identifying market gaps. “I realised that even though it was important for organisations to improve their productivity in all areas, the greatest impact came from reduced energy consumption,” he says. This epiphany propelled him to start a new company called Lean Solutions Group where he is currently the managing director.
“It focuses on conducting energy audits and also advising organisations on how they can effectively bring down their energy costs,” heexplains. Lean Solutions Group uses efficient energy produced from briquettes — made from sugarca ne dry waste — to heat water in boilers and produce steam energy, which is sold to industries at a subsidised cost.
We have been growing at a rate of 30 to 50 per cent annually in terms of turnover and profit DINESH TEMBHEKAR, MD, LEAN SOLUTIONS GROUP
Lean Energy Solutions and the Overall winner of the 2013 Top 100 Mid-sized Companies survey.
Above: Mr Tembhekar with his wife.
“Our option enables them to spend up to 25 per cent less of the amount they would normally incur when they use diesel fuel or furnace oil to produce steam energy,” Mr Tembhekar says. “So it’s a win-win scenario. The companies save on energy and we also generate some income.” Steam energy serves numerous purposes. It is used for sterilising medical equipment in pharmaceutical industries, fixing dyes in textile companies and boiling syrup for the manufacturing of beverages.
Since the company was established in 2007, it has expanded and set up branches across the country with a human resource base of about 200 parttime and permanent employees. It also enjoys a strong clientele base comprising of leading manufacturing companies such as Coca-Cola, Spin Knit Textiles and Flamingo Tiles.
“And we have been growing at a rate of 30 to 50 per cent annually in terms of turnover and profits,” says Mr Tembhekar. In 2013, Lean Solutions won the Top 100 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) competition organised by the Nation Media Group and KPMG Kenya.
“This came as a pleasant surprise since it was our first time to qualify for the competition and participate in it,” he says. Mr Tembhekar attributes the success to the high quality services offered to customers, a culture of hard work and family support.
“But now is not the time to relax or begin enjoying dividends. Any profit made is reinvested in the company to enable it grow,” he says. Mr Tembhekar says their work is also addressing various development challenges in the country. Statistics show that every tonne of briquettes manufactured by the company creates 12 days of employment and saves the country $150 by reducing reliance on imported oil.
The briquettes also avert one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, the leading contributor to climate change.
Since the briquettes are made using sugarcane waste from the Muhoroni Sugar Company, Mr Tembhekar says this cleans up the environment. He says that he often encourages his employees to come up with innovative ideas that can grow the company. Mr Tembhekar tells those interested in entrepreneurship to soldier on, in spite of challenges. All they need, he says, is a good product, belief in oneself, unwavering focus on set targets and embracing honesty in all dealings.
He also advises entrepreneurs to take risks. “I didn’t have ready capital, I had to use my house as security so as to get a loan from the bank. Shortcuts to success such as giving bribes to gain favours will only destroy your business and reputation,” he warns. The company also offers solutions for managing high electricity and pneumatic (air) energy consumption in industry.