The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves announced today the winners of nearly US$2 million in grants for entrepreneurs and organizations working to accelerate adoption, production and/or distribution of cleaner, more efficient cookstoves and fuels in developing countries.
The funding, part of the Alliance’s 10-year strategy to create a sustainable global market for clean cookstoves and fuels, focuses on empowering women, providing seed funding to early stage enterprises, and serving as catalytic funding that enables small and growing businesses to scale their operations.
“Since its founding five years ago, the Alliance has served as a catalyst for business growth in the clean cookstoves and fuels sector by driving investment to entrepreneurs and enterprises at key moments in their development,” said Radha Muthiah, CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. “We congratulate all of the awardees and look forward to working together with them to reach 100 million households with clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020.”
This year’s 16 grantees include a wide array of initiatives, such as those:
- Growing clean biomass stove sales and distribution actives in India;
- Increasing the role of women in the production and distribution of briquettes in Uganda;
- Developing a sales and marketing strategy for a Kenyan company producing a natural draft gasifier stove.
These three funding mechanisms, the Women’s Empowerment Fund, Spark Fund, and the Catalytic Small Grants Program, are particularly impactful because of their focus on empowering women, and the unique approach to providing capacity-building, as well as catalytic funding infusions that enable small businesses to sustainably scale operations.
For Ghana Cylinder, a previous grantee that distributes LPG canisters across Ghana, Alliance funding came at a critical time and allowed the company to expand operations and meet growing consumer demand.
“The Alliance’s Catalytic Small grant program enabled Ghana Cylinder to come back from the brink, much stronger and more profitable,” said Elizabeth Yawa Morny, CEO of Ghana Cylinder. “The Alliance helped catalyze our growth and develop a comprehensive distribution expansion strategy and become a regional leader in quality and service.”
Women’s Empowerment Fund
Women in developing countries play a crucial role in the widespread adoption and use of clean cooking solutions because of their central responsibility for cooking and managing household energy. The core objectives of the Women’s Empowerment Fund (WEF) grants are to support women’s catalytic role in the sector and to pilot innovative approaches for empowering women throughout the value chain.
The Alliance awarded US$75,000 each in grant funding to five organizations in Africa and Asia. Grantees also receive technical assistance and capacity building services as part of their grant.
Appropriate Energy Saving Technologies (AEST), Uganda - AEST is a locally-owned, woman-led business that creates livelihood opportunities for women in the cookstove and fuel value chain in Eastern Uganda. AEST will work towards scaling women’s participation in the value chain as suppliers of agricultural waste, producers of charcoal briquettes, and as distributors and after-sales service providers for these products.
Essmart, India - Essmart is building a last-mile distribution network for life-improving products, including efficient cookstoves, to reach and be adopted by low-income end users in Tamil Nadu, India. Essmart’s WEF grant focuses on training women shop keepers, with the support of their male counterparts, to be more active and empowered members of their family business, and test the effect of this training on end-user adoption of cleaner and more efficient cookstoves.
Frontier Markets, India – Frontier Markets is a woman-led business focused on distribution, and after-sales service of energy products in Rajasthan, India. With their WEF grant, they are building a women’s distribution network that will include training of 500 women sales agents in cookstove use, marketing, sales, empowerment, leadership, and after-sales service. The aim is to scale distribution of clean cookstoves by women energy entrepreneurs at their retail points.
Mercy Corps, Myanmar – The Mercy Corps Myanmar Stove Campaign is pioneering the clean cooking sector in Myanmar and is providing high quality clean cookstoves through a market system. Mercy Corps will build on lessons from its WEF-funded research on female consumers in Uganda, by demonstrating that using a gender-informed business model is more effective and sustainable than a business model that does not use specific gender analysis or interventions.
Solar Sister, Uganda – Solar Sister integrates women in the last-mile distribution chain for clean cookstoves and portable solar solutions to improve energy access in Africa. With support of the WEF, Solar Sister will strengthen women’s energy entrepreneurship through empowerment and leadership training by integrating the Alliance’s Empowered Entrepreneur Training Handbook into its comprehensive training program, piloting a training-of-trainers in Uganda, and evaluating the effectiveness of the training among its network of women sales agents.
We thank our Women’s Empowerment Fund donors: The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the U.S. Department of State.
This year US$1 million in Spark Fund grants will be awarded to four enterprises in Alliance focus countries. The Alliance’s Spark Fund provides investment-like growth capital and capacity development support to help enterprises reach commercial viability, scale, and ultimately unlock additional investments. Although there are a growing number of investors showing interest in the clean cooking sector, access to adequate growth capital continues to be a challenge for the sector. Early stage enterprises looking to scale their operations in developing markets often do not qualify for traditional sources of growth capital, as in many other global base-of-the-pyramid-focused industries. Therefore, patient sources of investment and investment-like venture grant financing are necessary to help early and growth stage social enterprises bridge this ‘pioneer gap’ and create a robust pipeline of investment-ready businesses.
The Alliance launched the Spark Fund in 2012 to address this gap and to help more clean cooking enterprises become investment ready and secure financing from impact investors. Prior to this year’s grant cycle, the Alliance has awarded Spark Fund venture grants in 2012 and 2013.
BioLite, India – BioLite makes advanced, forced draft stoves that generate electricity from the heat of the fire and dramatically reduce toxic emissions. BioLite has conducted commercial pilots of the HomeStove in India and East Africa. Through an initial trial in India, the company has successfully validated willingness-to-pay, feature set, and continued use, while driving operating efficiencies in sales and distribution. Spark Growth funding will be used to expand BioLite’s India team and distribution partners, with a focus on tapping into credit-enabled channels to widen its market.
African Clean Energy, Uganda & South Africa – Based in Lesotho, African Clean Energy (ACE) is a manufacturer and distributor of the ACE-1 stove, a clean biomass gasifier stove. Since 2012, ACE has manufactured stoves for local distribution in Lesotho and South Africa and global distribution to South Asia and Sub- Saharan Africa. ACE plans to use the Spark grant to strengthen internal operations, expand its manufacturing capacity and increase marketing and sales activities in East Africa.
Green Bio Energy, Uganda – Green Bio Energy (GBE) is a Uganda-based company producing and selling char briquettes and efficient cookstoves. The company’s Briketi Charcoal Briquettes (BCB) are made out of 100% recycled material and are cheaper than charcoal. The company sells an efficient stove called Briketi Eco-Stove (BES) as well as solar lamps and water filters. GBE has strong and well established distribution strategy in particular through its micro-entrepreneurs and to institutions, such as development agencies and NGOs. Using the Spark Venture Grant, GBE will increase production to meet the demand of its distribution partners, and further develop its brand and marketing strategy.
Filament Engineering, Bangladesh - Filament Engineering Ltd. is an engineering, manufacturing, and trading company in the renewable energy and consumer electronics equipment sector in Bangladesh. They manufacture domestic cook stoves and sell them through partnerships with NGOs, distributors and also directly to end customers under the brand name Muspana. Spark Venture funding will be used to expand Muspana’s production capacity and expand their marketing and sales activities in Bangladesh.
We thank our Spark Fund donors: Shell and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
Catalytic Small Grants Program
The Alliance is pleased to be awarding US$500,000 in Catalytic Small Grant (CSG) funding to seven enterprises in East Africa. The Catalytic Small Grants Program is a country-specific grant mechanism focused on locally-owned and operated businesses, and is intended to complement the globally-focused Spark Fund.
The key components of the CSG program are investment readiness analysis of potential grantees and the small grant awards, which include capacity building support by a local provider. The analyses involve 2-3 day site visits to assess all aspects of each enterprise selected, including meeting with suppliers, distributors, and consumers, as well as with the management team to review their operations, growth plans, sales and marketing strategies, and financial positions. Small grants are made by the Alliance to fund catalytic enterprise development and growth initiatives that increase the likelihood of investment, enrich the value chain through more efficient production and enhanced distribution, and foster strategic partnerships to strengthen the sector. The local capacity building partner works closely with the enterprises during the grant funding period to help improve the grantee’s capacity to support the growth of their organization.
Scode Ltd., Kenya – Scode is a manufacturer and distributor of efficient charcoal, wood and hybrid cookstoves based in Nakuru, Kenya. Their most popular product is a stove which burns both charcoal and wood. Scode’s stoves are sold via resellers, such as small shops or micro-entrepreneurs, and through direct to consumer sales. CSG support will enable Scode to improve sales and distribution, enhance production, and build capacity.
Kencoco, Kenya – Kencoco is one of the largest charcoal briquettes producers on Kenya’s coast with a durable, proprietary briquette design and coconut briquette prototype sold primarily via large retailers in Nairobi and Mombasa. CSG funds will be used to expand operating capacity.
Wisdom Innovations, Kenya – Wisdom Innovations produces a natural draft gasifier stove which accepts a wide range of biomass fuels, cooks for up to four hours, and sells for 50% of the cost of other gasifiers in the market. CSG funds will be used to further develop Wisdom’s sales and marketing strategy and help them establish a fuel distribution initiative where uncarbonized briquettes made from sugarcane bagasse will be sold alongside the Wisdom Stove.
Ecostove, Uganda – Ecostove, a woman-led enterprise, has developed an innovative forced-draft volcanic rock stove, which it packages with a solar panel kit. The company has partnered with several financial institutions to provide consumer credit. The CSG will be used to expand production capacity to help meet growing demands for their stove.
UgaStove, Uganda – UgaStove is the largest efficient charcoal stove manufacturer in Uganda. The woman-led company has the broadest cookstove distribution network throughout Uganda and significant activities in the built in stove market. The CSG will be used to help effect a turnaround of the business and help improve quality assurance and product differentiation.
Wana, Uganda - Wana is an independent LPG distribution company focused on the Kampala region. The company provides starter kits to consumers and distributors on credit to improve consumer uptake. The CSG will be used to diversify supply and increase production and storage.
AES, Uganda - AES is one of the largest efficient ceramic stove producers in Uganda. The company is well known for its branded purple stoves and modified square ceramic stoves for which it has managed to achieve premium pricing. The CSG will be used to expand production capacity.
We thank our Catalytic Small Grants Program donors: the Caterpillar Foundation and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.