WISDOM INNOVATIONS

WISDOM INNOVATIONS: SUSTAINABLE COOKING ENERGY FOR RURAL AND PERI-URBAN HOUSEHOLDS IN KENYA

NAIROBI, KenyaNAIROBI, Kenya
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

The current supply of biomass energy in Kenya is unsustainable. We are utilizing the waste from sugar industries in Kenya to provide clean, affordable, fast and eco-friendly cooking energy through biomass gasification technology.

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

What if the world's population knew about biomass gasification technology?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Millions of families in Kenya depend on biomass for their daily energy needs. This results to depletion of the forest cover and health complications, among other negative effects. About 15,000 people die in Kenya every year due to indoor air pollution. More than 50% of premature deaths among children 5 years and below are due to pneumonia caused by particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.

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

Wood gasification stoves are one of the leading solutions for indoor air pollution. They convert the harmful greenhouse gases including CO into cooking gas, therefore eliminating indoor air pollution. However the available options are too expensive and difficult to adopt. Most of these models can only use pellets which are not available in the Kenyan market. They also require power to operate which is not available in most rural and peri-urban households. Wisdom stove is the most affordable gasification stove in the Kenyan market. It generates its own draft therefore it doesn't require power to run the fan. In addition to burning pellets, this stove is customized to use any type of dry biomass that the beneficiaries are accustomed to.

Awards

$52,000 award: Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (2015), Best conservation solution - Nukuru National Trade Fair (2014), Best Innovation - ASK show, Embu (2013)
Impact: How does it Work

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

Our journey began when we believed that a technology can be moved from the lab to countless homes where it is needed. We have been engaging women as the key users of the heating energy in an effort to convert the features of our innovation to benefits for them. Clean emissions, fast coking and affordability are the three key benefits offered by our innovation. Women don't have to continue burying their young children they love due to pneumonia. Households don't have to spend the little money they have to buy high priced charcoal whose sources are being depleted every day. Wisdom Innovations believes in sustainability as a prerequisite for real development. We manufacture and distribute affordable biomass gasification cookstoves.

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

We have manufactured and distributed clean cookstoves to 2,000 households, impacting 12,000 beneficiaries. All users are trained by our sales team on the benefits of biomass gasification technology. The stoves have also opened up opportunities for pellets and uncarbonized briquettes production in Kenya, therefore creating many indirect employment opportunities. According to a compiled data from ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission of Kenya), and stove test results from University of Nairobi, total savings from the use of the stoves is estimated at $80,000. More than 12,000 trees have also been saved to date. By the end of 2016, we want to double this impact given the fact that we have obtained significant support from Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a UN Foundation spearheading the clean cookstoves agenda globally.

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

This idea can be replicated in almost any part of the developing world. The availability of different types of biomass waste in different regions of the world is a main reason why it is possible to scale the idea widely. Wisdom stoves also have great potential to create downstream value chains through further use of bio-char in agriculture, sanitation and water filtration. Thus they can not only be used in climate change mitigation as a tool for carbon-negative cooking but also play a pivotal role at the increasingly important nexus of water, energy and food security.
Sustainability

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

This being a for profit company, revenue generated through sales of our stoves is the main source of income. Any support received in terms of funding is utilized to create a strong business model that will ensure sustainability of the initiative. We believe that this market based approach is going to guarantee increasing growth.

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

Envirofit, burn manufacturing, ecozoom and philips have been providing clean cookstoves solutions to the Kenyan market. Our product differs from what they are offering, being the only natural draft gasifier stove in the market. Our stove is priced lowest compared to the others because all materials used in production are sourced locally.
Team

Founding Story

Nathan Puffer who is the co-founder of the company came over to Kenya in 1984 and was concerned by how smoke from traditional cooking was affecting women and children. He researched and constructed a stove prototype that he thought could be the solution to indoor air pollution. A pilot project followed which informed further adjustments to the design. A new design was finally developed which was more effective and acceptable in the market.

Team

THE TEAM Chief Executive Officer (Co-founder) - Dan Waithaka GSBI Business training (Santa Clara University, California) - Adequate training in management at Strathmore Business School, Strathmore University - 6 years experience in management Administrator - Diploma in Business Administration, Adequate training in book keeping and administration - 2 years experience in a similar position Sales manager Amos Nene - Adequate training in sales and marketing - 5 years experience in sales and microfinance Institutions (MFI) financing Sales representatives - Vincent Kubally, Chrisantus Mashaiti, Gladys Nyambura - Adequate training in sales Production manager John Kimani - Training in steel fabrication - 20 years experience in manufacturing steel products Steel fabricators - Paul Kimani - Elijah Wachira THE ADVISORY BOARD Chairman (Co-founder) Nathan Puffer - Vast experience in gasification technology - 15 years experience in management - Founder and CEO, Groton Timberworks, Vt USA Secretary Dan Waithaka - Chief Executive Officer Treasurer Merry Kinder - Training in Finance management - 13 years experience in Business administration Member Bill Puffer - 15 years experience in shipping and distribution - Has worked in leading stores and supermarkets in USA Member Francis Kairu - 35 years experience in management - Founder and MD, Wisdom Schools, Kenya
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

An email from Kenya Climate Innovation Center

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

Chief Executive Officer and Co-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]

Affordable and Clean Energy, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

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

1. Our stove is the first model in the world to use uncarbonized bagasse briquettes which has opened up new entrepreneurial opportunities.
2. The initiative was presented to Kenya Forest Service (KFS) which has now created a platform for us to demonstrate our products during public exhibition forums. These opportunities have yielded a level of success in terms of creating awareness and generating demand for our products.
3. Our application to be included in the RBF (Results Based Financing) project was successful. This project will allow us to sell our stoves on credit to microfinance groups which will greatly address the financing barrier which is among the leading causes of poor adoption of clean cookstoves.
4. We have managed to achieve great success with minimum resources including distributing cookstoves to 2,000 households.

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

1. UN habitat - Training the youth on construction of biomass gasification cookstoves.
2. SNV - Public sensitization activities
3. Global Social Benefit Institute - Business training for the CEO
4. Kenya Climate Innovation Center - Incubation for our business
5. Kenya Forest Service - Public sensitization
6. University of Nairobi - Stove testing
7. Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves - Capacity building and funding
8. Clean Cookstoves Association of Kenya - Standards development for clean cookstoves, creation of an enabling environment for clean cookstoves sector
9. Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute - Stove testing and design development