LightMountain

LightMountain: Clean Cookstoves For Tanzania

London, United KingdomDar es Salaam, Tanzania
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Lightmountain aims at providing a cleaner, more efficient and cheaper way of cooking to rural parts of Tanzania with the help of Clean Cookstoves, in addition to creating a sustainable secondary income that will empower women in these areas.

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

What if Tanzanian women could cook without worrying about their family's health while saving money on cooking fuel?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Tanzania has one of the highest rate of deforestation in the world, one of the lowest GDPs per capita at just $1,700 and it is estimated that inhabitants in rural communities spend 12-18% of their income on domestic energy alone, resulting in some women having to walk for more than 1km to find sources of wood. In addition to this, according to Clean Cookstoves International, 20,000 people die every from Household Air Pollution (HAP) in Tanzania.

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

Our solution is to make clean cookstoves affordable for families with small incomes in rural areas. These stoves reduce fuel usage by 66%, emit 80% less toxic emissions, could potentially save families $260/year and on average save 33 trees. By allowing families to save money on fuel, clean stoves can easily be purchased by the poorest communities through our microfinance plan. Local women from different villages are selected to act as our entrepreneurs. They distribute stoves in their communities, collect repayments and generate a small but significant income for themselves by buying and selling stoves for a profit. Our partner NGO works locally to supervise our entrepreneurs and provides education on the dangers of HAP and stove usage.
Impact: How does it Work

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

In September, part of the team went to Tanzania to implement the project with the help of our project partner Vijana Vision Tanzania, a local NGO. We trained and sold 33 cookstoves to 8 women in Sanze village, who are our entrepreneurs. In two days, they have all found customers for their stoves and are receiving regular repayments. These women are all earning between 30,000 - 50,000 Tanzanian shillings per month which equates to £9 - £15 but will make a profit of 10,000 shillings with every stove they fully sell, in addition to making savings by using the cookstove themselves. This additional income allows to improve their lifestyle, send their children to school or expand their existing business.

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

We have sold a total of 60 stoves to two villages in Tanzania and peaked interest in the project in different areas, creating a lot of potential for expansion. By the end of November we will be bringing on board 10 new entrepreneurs from in Mkuyini village and will begin distribution of 100 new cookstoves. We will now also be able to propose both charcoal and wood stoves to suit all needs. We constantly reinvest the repayments we receive monthly from our entrepreneurs to buy more stoves and supply the overwhelming demand. By next September, we are aiming to run the project in 5 villages with 40 female entrepreneurs in total and have distributed 2000 stoves in total.

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

We will mainly be targeting villages that are the most affected by fuel scarcity, causing cooking fuels to be very expensive, and low income communities who suffer from indoor air pollution. We will mainly be focusing on charcoal stoves as our initial implementation revealed that they were the most needed. Each village in which the project is implemented will work as a closed circle with its generated revenues used to buy more stoves for the community. Once the project has run for a long enough time, we aim to invest any profits into a local development project.
Sustainability

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

The money collected from repayments is constantly reinvested to buy more stoves. Due to a special agreement with our manufacturer we are able to buy stoves for 1$ less than the wholesale price. Therefore we can still provide our entrepreneurs with the cheapest price on the market, while generating a small profit. This profit is used to support local development projects in the communities, which are discussed with the village leaders beforehand.

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

Our manufacturer already works with entrepreneurs who sell the stoves in urban areas. As they are unable both financially and logistically to provide a repayment plan, the poorest communities in rural areas, who are the most affected by fuel scarcity and indoor air pollution, cannot purchase the stove in one go. By working in close partnership with our NGO and entrepreneurs we are able to deliver a clever solution to the communities who need it the most. Other projects have tried to distribute solar cookstoves, but they are too expensive and differ too much from traditional uses to be adopted.
Team

Founding Story

The project began in 2013 when a group of students had the idea of creating a cleaner way of cooking. Initially, the project was set up in the Philippines. The team visited the country's mountain region; however, it was deemed unsuitable for solar cooking due to the monsoon season taking place for the majority of the year. After this, most of the previous team graduated and new members completely rethought the project, with the same goal of ending respiratory illnesses due to harmful cooking methods. After extensive research, we found that Tanzania was the country most suitable for the project due to its high deforestation rate and the dramatic impact of respiratory illnesses due to HAP.

Team

Our team is made up of six university students from different degree programs, from law, to history, to neuroscience, all working together to make a sustainable difference. Our all-female team is composed of a Project Leader (Clara), Vice-Project Leader (Sarina), CRE (Karina), Marketing Manager (Anahita), Finance Manager and Beneficiary Relations (Ashley) and Head Buyer (Eman). Clara has the leadership skills and commitment necessary to be an efficient and proactive Project Leader. By being able to fly to Tanzania to implement the project with Sarina, they were able to develop a deep understanding of the situation and take appropriate actions. Sarina has been fully committed to the project since the beginning and co-leading with Clara allows a more elaborate decision-making process. Karina's communication skills has allowed the project to get great support from experienced business advisors and alumni which has been key to the development of the project. Anahita is a social media and video making addict that raised lot of awareness about the project and is in the process of creating a promotional video. Ashley is a fluent Swahili speaker, a Global Health student and a key member of the project. her deep understanding of the global issue surrounding health-threatening cooking methods and her ability to master excel makes her an invaluable member. Eman, communication and persuasion skills has allowed us to elaborate a great relationship with our manufacturer and to negotiate the deal that allows us to support development projects in the local communities. As the project grows we will recruit new members, mostly for financial positions and work with more coordinators in the NGO to supervise all the locations in which the project is implemented. Finally, being a part of the student-led Enactus society, allows us to gain a great amount of support from alumni all around the world.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

King's College London's Enactus Society

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

Co-Founder of LightMountain

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, Gender Equality, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Climate Action.

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

Enactus KCL works to build social enterprise based project such as ChipMonk, which aims at reducing food waste by sourcinge healthy apples which are destined to be wasted and upscale them into uniquely flavoured apple chips while employing high-skilled immigrants who are struggling to find suitable work due to lack of UK work experience to manage the business.

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

We are mainly working with two business advisors from Clifford Chance and Lloyds Bank and with our project partner Vijana Vision Tanzania, a local NGO with its headquartes in Kisarawe, Tanzania. However, as our project is part of the student-led Enactus KCL society, we have access to a range of different support systems, for example, alumni from different universities who ran projects under Enactus and a worldwide network of partner universities.