Can these ‘stovers’ finally crack the clean cooking problem?
A Rwandan cookstove company revealed this week that it has raised more money in the past six months than the entire cookstove sector has raised in any single year.
Inyenyeri, a Rwandan company that provides cookstoves to households at no cost in exchange for customers buying their wood fuel pellets, announced at the Clean Cooking Forum in New Delhi, India, that it has raised more than $20 million in loans, grants, and the sale of carbon credits. When used with its wood fuel pellets, Inyenyeri cookstoves reduce emissions by 98 to 99 percent compared to wood or charcoal stoves, the company says, making their stoves Tier 4, the highest performing tier for indoor emissions as defined by the World Health Organization. Inyenyeri follows the “razorblade model,” a business model in which one item is sold at a low price, or even at a loss, because the profits come from the complementary products.
It is a model that can be replicated, said founder and CEO Eric Reynolds, who told Devex he wanted to leave the forum having at least started conversations that could lead to an additional $10 million to support biomass gasification technology.
“After seven years of effort, we only now have a stove that is barely good enough to make our model work,” said Reynolds, who founded the outdoor clothing and equipment company Marmot as well as two other outdoor sports businesses before moving to Rwanda and launching Inyenyeri. “This is only the beginning of our journey, and the technology can evolve considerably beyond where it is today, and it must.”
An entire sector exists to get the 3 billion people who cook over open fires or with traditional cookstoves to use cleaner methods of cooking. This includes the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership hosting its annual forum in India this week as part of its work to get 100 million households to make the switch to clean cookstoves by 2020.
Photo courtesy of Russ Keyte.