USAID and Alliance Assemble Key Stakeholders to Expand Cookstove Market in Bangladesh
More than 200 entrepreneurs, donors, government stakeholders, and national and international NGO officials met this month in Dhaka to develop strategies and set priorities for transitioning Bangladesh’s nascent cookstoves market to one that is sustainable and built to scale.
The third annual Market Facilitation Platform for Improved Cookstoves, under the theme “Transitioning Towards a Sustainable Market,” was organized by Catalyzing Clean Energy in Bangladesh (CCEB), a project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance).
Attendees identified ways to create employment opportunities through stove manufacturing and distribution, and addressed how to best improve health outcomes for women and children. In addition to raising awareness about clean cooking solutions and the growing improved cookstoves sector in Bangladesh, the platform had several exciting outcomes.
Siddique Zobair, Joint Secretary and member of SREDA spoke about the various initiatives the government will undertake including providing favorable tax and duty policy for the sector. He announced that the House Hold Energy platform will host its first formal meeting with all stake holders in January, 2016.
During a session on access to finance, Asif Iqbal, Deputy Director, Bangladesh Bank spoke about the various initiatives of the Central Bank and shared that improved cookstoves are very much a part of the Central Bank’s Green Banking Policy and that low interest loans can be availed. However, he mentioned that awareness of available financing opportunities is very low and he invited interested manufacturers to apply for low interest loans for improved cookstoves.
Ms. Selima Ahmad, President of the Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries described the various initiatives they have taken to train women entrepreneurs and spoke about how low interest loans worked better for the poor women than micro finance. She explained that low interest loans are more feasible for small and medium entrepreneurs who face the working capital crisis.
Mr. Basudev Upadhyay, ISO TC 285 WG 3 Project Co-Leader and Coordinator at the Centre for Rural Technology in Nepal spoke about the need for testing and Standards and emphasized the need for coordination between local and international standards.
Rajeev Munankami, Senior Advisor at SNV mentioned that the government should have a policy or incentive mechanism for manufacturers who will comply with standards to encourage them to take quality approval from the standards committee.
Following the successful event in Dhaka, the Alliance will continue to work with the government, business enterprises, and stakeholders in Bangladesh to increase access to clean cooking solutions. These efforts include working very closely with the government to establish a Household Energy Platform within SREDA which will work to coordinate activities of the sector and its players, raise awareness on the issue and monitor the cookstoves testing and standards. The Alliance is also working to establish proper testing lab in Bangladesh to ensure all manufacturers comply with standards.