To help meet the growing demand for cookstoves in Guatemala, a group of women entrepreneurs has opened the first Estufas Mejoradas y Mas (Clean Cookstoves and More) in Sumpango, a town of around 50,000 people just north of Antigua. Sumpango’s Mayor joined representatives from the Municipal Women´s Office, several stove manufacturers, a representative from PRONACOM (the National Competitiveness Program), and a large group of Sumpango residents for the grand opening event held last month.
"This store will help many of our neighbors improve their health and also help the municipality reduce the harvesting of trees for firewood, thus improving the environment,” said the Mayor in a speech.
The three women owners are thrilled with the store’s success and the comments of the visitors, many of whom say they had no idea there were so many alternatives for cleaner cooking. The store features clean cookstoves technologies, water filters, and solar lighting systems, and is averaging 40 visitors per day. Already, more than two dozen stoves, one solar system, and three water filters were sold in the first two weeks after the store’s opening.
In addition to purchasing new cookstoves, customers can also find spare parts to service their current stoves. The store provides a space for customers to learn about the correct stove use and maintenance and the dangers of cooking with biomass fuels over traditional open fires. Stove demonstrations are held weekly so potential customers can "test drive" a stove they are interested in purchasing. To ensure the business’s success, the mayor’s office is supporting the women with accounting services and training, as well as management and legal assistance as well.