Spark Round I: Progress on the Ground in East Africa
During the Alliance’s recent activities in East Africa, the investment team had the opportunity to see first-hand the work accomplished by our Spark Fund’s first round grant recipients, as four of the five grantees (investees) are located there.
In 2012, the Alliance launched the first round of the Spark Fund – a grant facility designed to help enterprises reach commercial viability and mirror early stage investment by funding business capacity, development, and growth. The Spark Fund aims to invest $2 million in grant capital annually in enterprises with scalable approaches that have the potential to transform the sector through their success.
The East African companies include BURN Manufacturing, Ezylife, and GVEP International in Kenya, and Impact Carbon in Uganda. Each company offers a unique product or position in the value chain. Our visit demonstrated both the promise and challenge of bringing cookstoves to market at scale. While it takes time to truly understand the success and growth of a company through an investment, we want to highlight the accomplishments of our first round of grantees and hope to bring you continued news of their success in the next year.
• BURN Manufacturing has used their design experience to set up a full assembly factory in Kenya with plans to move to a complete modern factory over the course of the next year. BURN's JikoKoaTM stove has been distributed by over 40 distributors in the Nairobi area and beyond by companies such as Boma Safi, Ukwala Supermarket, Microenergy Credits, and Multilink.
• Impact Carbon (IC) used the Spark Funds to introduce the Biolite Home Stove to the Ugandan market. Impact Carbon has leveraged their years of work in the Ugandan market and their research through the USAID sponsored TRAction study to launch a marketing campaign in the country. In the past few months, IC has developed three new distribution channels with over 60 distribution partners, providing a high quality stove and a LED light powered by the stove to families around the Kampala region.
• GVEP International has worked with over 10 Kenyan jiko manufacturers, and a local Kenyan engineer, to develop an improved charcoal jiko stove that performs better in efficiency compared to the current stove model, with a firewood stove still in development. Each of these manufacturers have undergone a full business assessment and are being trained on how to manufacture and market the new stove with the aim to not only improve the efficiency of the stove, but grow the companies through the creation of diverse product lines.
• Ezylife Kenya has spent the past year developing a variety of partnerships with savings and credit co-operatives and village level savings and loan institutions. These partnerships have resulted in thousands of families receiving improved stoves in rural areas with the help of financing. In the next year, they will refine their EzyAgent program to include and empower women as EzyAgents. They have introduced two new products into their product mix, giving consumers the opportunity to choose the right stove for their family at the right price point.
In February 2014, the Alliance announced the recipients of the second round of the Spark Fund to increase the capacity and scale up clean cooking enterprises globally. This second round represents a total investment of $4 million in clean cooking enterprises to date through the Spark Fund and the strong commitment from the Alliance to strengthen the supply of clean cooking solutions globally.