Exploring the next generation of Clean Cooking! February 10 2016

At EcoZoom our products are healthy, efficient and eco-friendly and we are always looking for ways to improve the lives of our customers. Our Jet stove saves people up to 70% on charcoal usage and reduces their exposure to harmful emissions by up to 60% compared to basic stoves!

We have recently started sales of pellet fuel under a new initiative funded in part by a Pilot Innovation Fund Grant from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. The fuel which we call ‘Pika Poa’ is made from recycled and compacted sawdust. It is an environmentally friendly solution compared to charcoal, which is often harvested in an unregulated manner. Pika Poa is energy dense, clean to handle and consistent in providing an efficient cooking experience. The fuel is burned in a gasifier stove which has a fan charged through a detachable solar panel that forces air up into the combustion chamber. This makes the combustion more complete and reduces the released emissions. 

Under the Pilot Innovation Fund Grant, we are testing different distribution models and incentives that should increase the use of pellet fuel. This includes selling the fuel through local kiosks, working with community health workers and utilising riders to deliver fuel. To promote continuous use of the fuel, households earn points on purchases which can be turned into rewards such as t-shirts and airtime! Data from the pilot relating to households usage, distribution costs and uptake rates will help to inform the wider strategy for turning sustainable fuel supply into a viable business line. 

Benta Ojwang is a businesswoman and mother of 6 from Siaya Town in Western Kenya, pictured below at her shop. After seeing Pika Poa fuel in action during a demo, she decided she wanted to use and sell it in her community. "With Pika Poa I cook fast and don't waste time, the food always tastes good! I use three 16kg bags in one month which costs me 2190 KES. Before, I used 4 bags of charcoal per month which cost me 4000 KES. I have stopped using charcoal and am saving money!" Benta cooks for 8 people in her household daily. "My kitchen is now clean. The pellets save me time which I can now spend on my business. With the cost saving I can give pocket money to my children and put some towards school fees. My neighbours think the stove is very smart, I am happy with it and have since referred 5 of my friends."

Getting households to switch their cooking fuel to pellets is not easy. It requires a shift in behaviour and adopting something unfamiliar. We see that as our first users embrace this new cooking experience and spread the word in their communities, interest in the fuel is growing! We are continuing to increase the number of households in our pilot and are exploring the potential from institutions and commercial customers. We currently use stoves and fuel supplied through our partners and hope that by demonstrating the demand for these products, we can stimulate production of sustainable fuels in Kenya and continue to migrate households along the energy ladder to healthy, efficient and eco-friendly products!