Rob Katz

Shell and Envirofit Partner on BoP Cookstoves

Bill KramerGuest blogger Bill Kramer is principal of The Global Challenge Network, LLC, an executive education and training company. From 2001 through mid-2007, he worked on pro-poor business strategies with WRI. Previously, Bill founded a non-profit focusing on the relationship of knowledge to economic development and enjoyed a long career in the private sector, founding a dozen companies, most of which were in the book business.

By Bill Kramer

Yesterday, the New York Times’ Science section featured an ongoing partnership to develop, manufacture, and sell cleaner-burning cookstoves. Working together, the Shell Foundation and Envirofit–a Colorado-based non-profit that we’ve profiled before on NextBillion–plan to address air-quality problems in a host of BoP communities worldwide. According to the Times:

Envirofit has plans not only to engineer the stoves, but also to market them. The hundreds of prior stove projects, Dr. Willson said, were not ?guided by a real strategic vision of what it means to understand who the customer is, what they need and how to get it produced.? Envirofit has been visiting rural areas to study factors like the ergonomics of cooking habits and preferred color schemes. In India, women tend to squat while cooking, making height an important consideration. Envirofit will offer a variety of sleek ceramic stoves from single to multipot, with and without chimneys, and with colors like apple red, baby blue and gold. The cost is to start at $10 to $20 and run to $150 to $200.

Envirofit GraphicFor readers of NextBillion, this project has a number of interesting takeaways. First of all, the partners have consciously created a BoP product through careful analysis of user demands and requirements. Secondly, the stoves have been developed from an NGO perspective, but the business model is fully intended to scale to the level of need, and to operate as a sustainable, profitable enterprise–clear marks of Shell’s involvement.More analysis of the cookstove project is available at What’s a BOPreneur?, the blog of Envirofit co-founder (and NextBillion ally) Paul Hudnut.