Jan Bonde Nielsen is best known as a Danish billionaire and oil tycoon. But he also made history by establishing one of the most remarkable horticulture programs in Kenya, Africa. This company was DCK International. It grew millions of flowers in a remote region of Kenya.
Bonde Nielsen established DCK International in the 1960s in cooperation with Denmark’s Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries. The operation soon developed into one of the largest of its kind in the world. At its peak, DCK was cultivating five million square meters of land to grow flowers. It employed some 7,000 people. The firm also had a component in Europe.
DCK International had enormous and positive consequences on the Kenyan economy. It provided thousands of decent-paying jobs for citizens who might otherwise have struggled to find work. DCK International grew so large it came to represent a sustainable industry unlike any before in this African nation.
Jan Bonde Nielsen has long held an interest in philanthropic projects. He has demonstrated a special concern for the people of Kenya. He spearheaded a project to make clean-burning propane gas more affordable and available to more Kenyans.
Kenyans have traditionally used wood and charcoal-based ovens as cooking systems. Wood and charcoal release more polluting air particulates into the atmosphere than diesel fuel. The result has been widespread lung disease among Kenyans. Unfortunately, most Kenyans could not afford to buy cleaner-burning propane gas.
Jan Bonde Nielsen worked with Circle Gas to formulate a plan in which Kenyans could buy propane gas on a pay-as-you-go system. They meant they did not have to keep up with a monthly gas bill and get cut off from service. Bonde Nielsen also teamed up with Michael Joseph, the founder of Safaricom, a leading communications company in Africa. Together they developed a smart chip that could be installed in Circle Gas meters that automatically helped people control and monitor their gas use.
The success of DCK International prompted Jan to develop further private initiatives. This led directly to the establishment of two other philanthropic groups in Africa, Farm Africa and the Virunga Foundation.
Jan Bonde Nielsen has served as chairman of several Danish companies and has worked with the Confederation of Danish Industries. He was also a member of the World Wildlife Fund and the Horticultural Employers Association.