Alliance Financing Propels Stove Manufacturer to Ramp Up Production in Kenya
“We want to help our consumers save money and improve their health,” said Eoin Flinn, General Manager at Burn, a manufacturer of cookstoves in Nairobi, Kenya.
The company’s goal is not only to provide a quality and affordable cookstove, but to also provide a variety of cooking solutions that will save the consumer money, time and reduce indoor air pollution.
Burn’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, which was built with support from the Alliance’s Spark Fund and additional funding from General Electric and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, is modern, comfortable, and expansive. A large orange “Burn” sign hangs overhead in near the entrance, with pictures of African women using the cookstove or “jiko,” the Swahili word for stove. The design of the boxes of the Jikokoa, Burn’s particular model of clean cookstove, are covered with customer testimonials, graphics, and pictures outlining the cost and benefits of the jiko.
Manufacturing in Africa is cheaper, but harder,” Flinn says. Roads are difficult to traverse, building the structure of a factory was more difficult to do than many other countries, and funds are needed for upfront investment, according to Flinn. However, resources were less expensive, and once the initial investment barrier was overcome, manufacturing became much cheaper to do.
The $500,000 Spark Fund Grant from the Alliance was a critically important part of overcoming the initial investment barrier.
Flinn explained that Burn would have had to buy equipment in a piecemeal fashion. Acquiring some every quarter would have slowed down production and product distribution. With the Spark Fund Grant, however, Flinn emphasized that, “A large injection of cash helped us buy all of our equipment,” enabling them to ramp up production and disseminate at a mass scale. This support allowed Burn to develop their new facilities with ample space to produce a large inventory and to create over 100 jobs in Kenya as well.
Burn now has the capacity to manufacture up to 20,000 Jikokoas a month with a back room inventory of 2,500 finished stoves at all times. Currently, they have a demand for just over 8,000 stoves per month. Their sales success can also be attributed to successful partnerships with distributors and financial institutions to make their product both affordable and accessible.
Since receiving the Spark Fund grant, Burn has secured a follow on investment from Acumen that will help them reach their short term target of 8,000 stoves per month and achieve their long term goal of providing 3.7 million cookstoves to families in the next 10 years.
Having solid funding has enabled Burn to look at cookstove dissemination from all angles: marketing, financing, end user research, evaluation, and more. The Spark Fund grant pushed them to be able to have all the equipment needed to become a successful manufacturing plant, and it is this synergy that will propel clean cookstoves into many more Kenyan households.