Jan Bonde Nielsen is a man of many talents and interests. He’s known today for his knack for business acquisitions and ability to discover unique business opportunities in a wide range of industries around the world. Born on May 20, 1938 in Copenhagen, Denmark, he has lived on multiple continents and gained titles including oil tycoon, property developer, preservationist, philanthropist, and many others.
Jan has many goals, one of which is providing clean and affordable gas to families in Africa. The World Health Organization notes that respiratory infections are a leading cause of premature deaths in Kenya, one country where Jan lived. One of the reasons behind respiratory infections are household fuels. Although they are typically inexpensive, wood fires produce more deadly matter into the air than diesel fuel. Healthy methods of cooking, such as using propane, are too expensive for many families.
Jan Bonde Nielsen wanted to change this, so he worked with Circle Gas to develop a new method of providing clean cooking gas for even the poorest households. The customers don’t have any upfront costs, and allows families to pay as they go so that they only receive as much gas as they want at a specific time. Jan worked with the founder of Safaricom, Michael Joseph, to create the technology for the smart chips in every Circle Gas meter. The meter is installed at each home, and it alerts Circle Gas when the tank runs low.
Jan Bonde Nielsen’s partnership with Safaricom is inspired by the company’s contribution to the global sustainable goals of economic growth, social-economic transformation, and development. Their contributions are made possible by their Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB IoT) network and M-PESA, which is a mobile phone-based money transfer service. This technology offers families low-power mobile connectivity to devices across the country. It also allows for remote monitoring and management of gas meters and more. These projects make clean cooking gas more affordable, as well as remove the health challenges traditionally associated with dirty fuels.
In the 1960s, through a partnership with the Industrialisation Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), Jan Bonde Nielsen formed DCK International, a group that turned into one of the world’s largest flower growing groups. Originally, the group was based in Europe and Kenya. They were well-known for using cutting-edge agricultural techniques. The group grew to over five million cultivated square meters of land and employed 7,000 people. Thanks to its industry contributions, it led to an entire new sustainable industry in Kenya. Today, it is one of the country’s largest foreign exchange earners and has an export value of more than a billion dollars. The company’s success model has been recognized by The World Bank as a strong example of an effective development project.
This project inspired Jan Bonde Nielsen to continue seeking out more private initiative projects. He became involved in Farm Africa and the Virunga Foundation. He’s also been a board member or chairman of a variety of groups. They include the World Wildlife Fund, the Horticultural Employers Association, and other Danish companies.
Due to an interest in the preservation of nature and endangered species, he now serves as the Chairman of the Virunga Foundation. This multi-million organization was funded by the EU along with Laurene Powell, the widow of Steve Jobs, the Eric Schmidt family foundation, Warren Buffett, the European Commission, the Earth Alliance, the Emerson Collective, and Global Wildlife Conservation. The fund’s goal, and that of Jan Bonde Nielsen, is to protect the park and all its inhabitants.
Originally created in 1925, Virunga is Africa’s oldest national park. The park is well-known for its gorgeous scenery, which includes glaciers, a lava lake, and its famous mountain gorillas. The fertile soil around the park has also led to an improvement in cultivation methods for local farmers. The foundation has built three hydro power stations right outside the park. They supply electricity to thousands of local people. The income they earn also helps support the park. The European Union notes that Virunga’s activities are important for maintaining peace in the region. There are hundreds of armed rangers protecting the park and the animals inside.
Jan Bonde Nielsen is honored to be on the board of the Virunga Foundation. The park has earned many accolades for its good work. This includes recognition from the BBC and National Geographic, as well as the Albert Schweitzer Prize and the Prince Albert Prize. There was even a film about Virunga financed by Leonardo de Caprio, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2016. In 2018, Virunga was awarded the Roosevelt Prize. This award has been given to a variety of impressive recipients including Nelson Mandela, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Helmut Schmidt, Bill Clinton, and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Jan Bonde Nielsen has also been involved in the industrial, manufacturing, and shipping industries. In 1981, he moved to the UK and began working in the UK property market.