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International Project: Kenya


Products: Charcoal stoves, wood stoves and solar lights.
Quantity of products to date: Over 100,000 and counting!

Need for Cookstoves:

Charcoal is the main fuel source for cooks in urban, peri-urban and even some rural areas without access to gas or electricity. However, making charcoal is a highly inefficient process that is harmful to the environment. A tree is cut down, covered with topsoil and leaves then lit on fire. The slow pyrolysis and absence of oxygen makes charcoal. Only 10% of that tree will make charcoal because the conversion efficiency is so low. That means you have to cut down a ton of tress to get a little bit of charcoal!

The Kenyan government has put restrictions on making charcoal but sadly instead of stopping the process, it has created a black market for it. Cooks need it and are willing to pay black market prices because it is cheaper than electricity or gas. In urban areas in Kenya, nearly 1 million households spend over $1.00 per day, or 15-20% of household income on charcoal for cooking fuel. Most Americans only spend 4% of their income on energy.

In rural areas, over 95% of the population uses solid fuels for cooking. More than 21 million people suffer from health issues caused by household air pollution; it is the second leading cause of premature death in the country. As the primary cooks and managers of households, women are responsible for collecting firewood in increasingly deforested rural areas and are often cooking in smoke-filled homes over traditional three stone fires. According to the World Health Organization, cooking on a three stone fire is the equivalent of smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day!

Project Description:

EcoZoom opened its second office in Nairobi, Kenya in May of 2013 and. Opening an office in Kenya represented an expansion of our business model to not only sell to distributors in-country, but directly to end users. We have now developed strong sales channels and work with multiple partners that are helping us blanket Kenya with our clean burning ‘jikos’ (the Swahili word for stove).

Unique Project Aspects:

Being on the ground is allowing us to try lots of our ideas and innovate in the cookstove sector.

Mobile Money : Kenya’s mobile money sector is highly developed and allows consumers to pay for goods and services through their mobile phones. As banks are not as accessible to many people, mobile money allows them to save and pay for goods without the danger of carrying cash around. EcoZoom is using mobile money to allow end users to pay (even pre-pay) for our jikos. This helps make our jikos more accessible to the people who need them.

Maintenance & Repair : We extend the life of our jikos by offering maintenance and repair services. We designed the jikos to be easily fixed with spare parts using only a screwdriver. By providing M&R, we are helping customers get the most out of their investment.

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