Alliance Congratulates Winners of Spark, Pilot and Women’s Empowerment Funds
On the occasion of the National Clean Cookstoves and Fuels Conference in Nairobi, the Alliance is pleased to announce more than US$ 3 million in grants and loans for entrepreneurs and significant progress in the processes to advance new WHO indoor air quality guidelines and the first-ever global cookstove standards.
As the Alliance works in 2014 to transition from Phase I to Phase II of its strategic operating plan, it will place a strong emphasis on expanding support for entrepreneurs to reach customers and improve lives; raising awareness among targeted consumer segments; conducting new research to underscore the magnitude of the health, environmental, livelihood and gender impacts of inefficient and dangerous cooking practices; and establishing global standards for air quality and clean cookstoves that bolster the market and make products that people aspire to own.
This year marked the second round of the Alliance Spark Fund, introduced in 2012 to help venture and growth stage enterprises reach commercial viability and scale by funding business capacity development and growth. More than 70 Spark Fund applications were received, and 17 of those businesses underwent due diligence site visits. This year’s pool of applicants was exceptional and our investor panel had a difficult time selecting the winners.
We are pleased to announce the following enterprises will share Spark grant funding of US$ 2 million:
SimGas is a biodigester design and manufacturing company focused on distribution in the East African market. The company is structured as a joint venture between the parent design company based in the Netherlands (SimGas BV), and in-country manufacturing company (Sumaria Group Ltd).
Eco-Fuel Africa (EFA) produces green charcoal from locally sourced biomass waste as an alternative to traditional wood fuel. Based in Uganda, EFA employs local farmers, leverages local technology and involves 260 women retailers in its value chain to create a sustainable impact.
Greenway Grameen Infra designs & distributes efficient biomass cookstoves for rural families. The company’s flagship product – Greenway Smart Stove – is an improved biomass cookstove sold in 24 districts (5 states) in India and one district in Bangladesh.
EcoZoom has sold 83,000 improved cookstoves in 18 countries through distributors and 5,000 stoves in the U.S., targeting the camping industry. With its launch in Kenya, EcoZoom plans to expand its operations to include design, manufacturing, and direct distribution of wood and charcoal clean cookstoves.
Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprises produces and sells clean burning, sustainable charcoal briquettes to lower income households in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The company’s briquettes are made from compressed recycled char-ash and charred coconut husks.
SMEFunds is an ethanol gel manufacturing and distribution company focused on distribution in Nigeria. The business has developed a ground-breaking method of producing cellulosic ethanol and converting the liquid into gel that can then be used in their cookstove, which is manufactured in China. SMEFunds has a distribution structure similar to that used by Avon Products by empowering individuals to sell the products at a margin throughout Nigeria.
We thank our Spark Fund donors: Royal Dutch Shell, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Pilot Innovation Fund
This year also marked the second round of the Pilot Innovation Fund (PIF), which finances innovative approaches for enterprises across all stages of development. Two Alliance first round PIF grantees have gone on to become Spark grantees – Greenway Grameen Infra and Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise. This supports our hypothesis that the PIF is an important mechanism to support early stage enterprises and create a pipeline to the Spark Fund.
Areas of support for this year’s PIF include product design and performance, business models that create local livelihoods, and marketing and distribution. We also received more than 70 PIF applications this year, and after significant deliberation we are pleased to announce the following enterprises will share a US$ 400,000 grant:
Applied Sunshine LLC is a startup company that has developed an innovative vacuum tube solar cooker to be marketed in Guatemala. This tube structure has the capability of cooking various types of foods that other solar cooking models cannot, including local foods such as tortillas.
Prakti Design will complete a two-burner, multi-fuel stove design for Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. This stove is being developed in response to the increasing demand from consumers for multiple burner stoves and hopes to quickly achieve economies of scale through sales to more markets due to the stove’s fuel versatility.
Emerging Cooking Solutions (ECS) manufactures and distributes pellets in Zambia. ECS currently sells the Phillips stove at US$ 100 as the preferred option to burn their fuel. ECS will test the Prime stove (US$ 35) with their pellets and work with employers to provide financing.
Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd is a solar home product distributer in Bangladesh. Rahimafrooz will expand into the clean cooking market by building on the WASHplus study recently conducted in Bangladesh and begin marketing and distributing the stove most likely to be accepted in the market.
CleanStar Ventures will use Pilot funds and lessons learned from their work in Mozambique to develop an ethanol stove with a refillable fuel cartridge, complementary household appliances that can use ethanol, and a fuel distribution process that leverages partnerships with multinational corporations. The goal of the overall project is to create a global distribution network for ethanol that layers on the oil and gas distribution network.
C-Quest Capital (CQC) is a private equity and carbon finance firm providing clean and efficient household energy technologies and sustainable sources of household fuels. Through TLC Green (TLCG), a Joint Venture between CQC and the Malawian NGO Total Land Care (TLC), CQC proposes to test a new business model to couple the marketing and sale of sustainable firewood with improved cookstoves.
We thank our PIF donors: UK Department for International Development (DFID); Johnson & Johnson; and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NORAD).
Women’s Empowerment Fund
In conjunction with the Pilot Innovation Fund (PIF), the Women’s Empowerment Fund (WEF) was launched in November 2013 with a focus on financing gender and empowerment interventions within clean cooking business models. Using the Alliance’s recently released resource guide, Scaling Adoption of Clean Cooking Solutions through Women’s Empowerment as a foundation, funding will allow organizations to test and implement the best practices highlighted in the guide at each stage of the value chain. The Alliance received over 50 applications this year and is pleased to announce the following winners will share a US$ 375,000 grant:
Envirofit will examine how targeted empowerment and leadership training for women entrepreneurs can impact their capacity to educate and support customers and scale adoption.
Fuego del Sol will provide female school cooks with improved institutional stoves and train them in clean cooking techniques and maintenance, as well as support them in becoming clean cooking entrepreneurs. Fuego del Sol will also work with the cooks to create central distribution hubs for household cookstoves and briquettes.
Mercy Corps will analyze affordability and financing barriers for women cookstove consumers in purchasing improved cookstoves in Uganda. They will design and test a portfolio of consumer financing mechanisms to help women consumers afford the products and determine which combinations have the greatest potential to scale cookstove adoption.
The Paradigm Project will enhance its gender-sensitive approach to the innovative EzyAgent program in Kenya, with a focus on creating refinements that will facilitate the recruitment and success of women as cookstove entrepreneurs. Within this, Paradigm will seek to identify the primary characteristics, traits and skills that successful female EzyAgents share, as well as understand the conditions of success for female entrepreneurs in the cookstove value chain.
Grassroots Trading Network for Women will develop a toolkit for a handheld electronic device that can be used to collect data to better understand consumer willingness to pay. The toolkit will measure the amount of money saved through use of an improved cookstove and compare it with monthly installments that consumers will pay for the purchase of improved cookstoves.
Soluciones Apropriadas has designed an improved cookstove used for tortilla-making by small-scale commercial ventures in Guatemala. The group will engage women end-users in the research and development process in order to create a product for women entrepreneurs involved in the production and sale of tortillas.
We thank our WEF donors: UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Caterpillar.
The full report to the Conference is here (PDF): http://www.cleancookstoves.org/resources_files/summary-report-kenya-global.pdf