EcoZoom

EcoZoom : Energy efficient cook stoves

Nairobi, KenyaWhole country, Kenya
Year Founded:
2011
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

EcoZoom is a social enterprise and certified B Corporation that makes clean burning, portable wood and charcoal powered cookstoves for poor people in 3rd world countries. We believe cooking should be healthy, efficient and ecofriendly for cooks around the globe.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if everybody in the world could have access to clean cooking?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Worldwide, about 3 Billion people and in Africa about 700 Million people don't have access to modern fuels (gas or electricity. In Kenya 84% of people (7.8 Million households) use solid fuels (wood/charcoal) for cooking. As a result of that about 15000 Kenyans yearly die from Indoor Air Pollution (IAP). People spend up to 20% of their income on fuel for cooking where in an average developed country it is only 5%.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Selling & distribuing improved wood & charcoal cookstoves to the middle class & lower of the population in 3rd world countries. These stoves save people up to 70% on fuel costs (can be up to 250 USD saving per year per household, the equivalent of 6 months to a year of income for many families) and reduce toxic smoke & emissions up to 70%, compared to current traditional ways of cooking. It means people can use their money for better nutrition, school fees and other family matters which can drastically improve the family life. Next to that, one single stove can save up to 3 tons of CO2 emission per year and save over 8 full grown trees per year, with that having a very positive impact on the environment as well!

Awards

EcoZoom is a certified B-Corporatoin (awarded in top 10% of 'Best for the world in 2015) and awarded Gold in the 2014 International Design Excellence Awards
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A charcoal cookstove can change the life of a family! For one household saving up to 70% on fuel costs means they can save up to 250 USD saving per year. For a lot of households in Africa that is the equivalent of half a year up to a year income. That money can be used for a lot of other good things such as better nutrition and school fees. The stoves reduce toxic smoke & emissions up to 70%. It is calculated that traditional ways of cooking represent the same as smoking 2 packs of sigarettes per day. Saving 70% of that saves lifes Next to that, one single stove can save up to 3 tons of CO2 emission per year and save over 8 full grown trees per year, with that having a very positive impact on the environment as well!

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Currently we have sold over 32000 clean cooking stoves in Kenya. This means we have improved the lives of over 160000 people in Kenya alone (taking a family size average of 5 people). Since the stoves can last for 5 years, the impact can be sustained for a long time. Every stove saves over 3 tons of CO2 and 8 trees per year, meaning that per year we have saved 96000 tons of CO2 and 256000 trees. In the coming years we plan to expand the sales accross Kenya to over another 100,000 stoves sold, impacting the lives of as many households and positively impacting the environment with that (100000 * 3 tons = 300000 tons per year; 100000 * 8 = 800000 trees per year; all with potential sustainable impact for 5 years). We also plan to go into other East-African countries where the impact on peoples lives and on the environment will be similar

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

On the short term we are planning to further grow our business via local distribution partners, cooperatives and micro-finance organizations in Kenya as there are still many households without clean cooking solutions (since almost 8mln households are cooking with solid fuels). On the long term we want to expand into neighbooring countries (Uganda, Tanzania) and set-up strong partnerships with business partners in West-Africa (Ghana, Nigeria) and Southern Africa (Mozambique, South Africa). Since about 700mln people in Africa are cooking on solid fuels, the potential and impact can be huge!
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

EcoZoom is a social entrepreneurial for profit organization. This means that the ultimate goal of the company is to make profit with which the company can sustain it's operations and invest in future growth. In 2015 the company is not profitable yet, but from August to November onwards it has been. By improving product profit margins and making operations more efficient the company plans to be profitable in 2016.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are other companies addressing these problems (Burn Manufacturing and Envirofit). These companies have been in operation for a longer time. We differ from them in 2 ways: product offering - our products are more efficient, so save people more money and they are more durable, they last for 2 to 5 years, where theirs last for max 1 year; business model: we mostly serve the end-users by working closely with existing market structures (Micro-finance, cooperatives, etc) where they work mainly by investing heavily in traditional marketing & sales which requires a high upfront investment.
Team

Founding Story

The company was founded in 2011 when two MBA students in Portland were doing a project on improved cookstoves for camping. After starting the sales of these kind of stoves in the United States and doing some trade sales globally they got more and requests form 3rd world countries. They then realized that the potential and impact for these stoves in these kind of countries could be huge. After careful reseach and consulting of the GACC (Global Alliance of Clean Cookstoves) they decided to start-up an office in Kenya (with only a 40000 USD loan!) to enable making the impact locally. After testing the stoves for almost a year the first official models were launched in Kenya by late 2013.

Team

The management team has the 2 founders (FT, MBA), a global sales & marketing director (FT, MBA), a kenya country manager (FT, MBA) and an product/business model innovation manager (FT Masters in Engineering). In Kenya there is a full-time local team which comprises a person for admin, 2 for finance and controlling, 5 sales people, one marketing manager, one innovation/business development manager and one logistics manager. We plan to expand the team with at least 3 sales managers to cover other geographic regions in Kenya and with another marketing person to ensure all operational marketing activities are covered. To inspire investors, market our solutions globally and start sales in other countries we plan to hire a global communications manager and potentialy an extra business development manager. Additionally we consider to bring on board a financial/investor relations person who can help us improving our financial structures and help us to get investors on board
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Read it on Facebook

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Director of Sales & Marketing (not the founder)

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Working at Philips I have pioneered different entrepreneurial initiatives (over 8 years time): set-up of na only-online business in Europe which was back then (2008) a very innovative concept within the company and the industry. After that I have set-up the coffee business (of which a totally new cofffe concept) in South America (Brazil & Argentina) which was basically non-existent at the time. Later on I have set-up different new product initiatives for Philips Lighting in Asia (mainly China & India). Next to that I have been a funding and founding member of I-Like-Local (www.i-likelocal.com) a social entrepreneuril online travel start-up.

The founding members have entrepreneurial experience in another cookstove company and in a biotech firm. They have done pilot cookstoves initiatives in Mexico and Kenya and Rwanda.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We are in touch with multiple different partners in the clean cookstove industry (investors, NGO's, governments, competitors, etc), of which the most important one is the GACC (Global Alliance of Clean Cookstoves). We have a strong relationship with them and they have awarded us multiple grands to start up innovative pilots. Additionally, they have supported us in connecting with other players in the industry and funders with whom we connect frequently to share best practices and learn from each other. In Kenya we have a local investor and advisor who has a over 30 years of experience in doing business in Kenya and Africa. Next to that, we work closely with (government) NGO's (eg Winrock from the US) with whom we can set-up new innovative approaches in sales & marketing. We are also planning to set-up closer relationships with the World Bank as they are setting up different initiatives in the Clean Cookstoves sector.