posted by Prime Sarmiento
Rio de Janeiro -
Apart from supportive government policies, international treaties and huge investments, a dash of entrepreneursip may help reduce carbon emissions one cooking stove at a time.
Cleanstar Mozambique inaugurated last month what is heralded as world’s first sustainable cooking fuel facility in Mozambique’s Sofala province. The facility will be producing ethanol-based cooking fuel made from locally-farmed cassava and will be sold together with the company made cookstoves in the capital of Maputo. CleanStar’s complete cooking solution is being marketed under the “Ndzilo” brand (the word ”ndzilo” means “fire” in the local dialect ] and promises to offer cleaner, faster, safer and more environment friendly alternative to the traditional charcoal-based stoves.
“Cleanstar’s business strategy is to introduce an alternative to charcoal that can be competitive based on sustainable bioenergy production,” Cleanstar Director Sagun Saxena said in a bioenergy forum held at the sidelines of Rio+20.
The need for this kind of interventions to be financially sustainable was the main theme that emerged from a daylong seminar organized by the Global Bioenergy Partnership. And for that to be viable, it has to fill in a market need.
Cleanstar in fact is just tapping into a previously unmet need.
Saxana said their company’s selling an affordable and safer option to households who had traditionally used charcoal to cook because that’s
the only thing that they can afford.
“Charcoal is not a preferred cooking solution (for households) . But it is the only option available to them,” he said.
A family in Mozambique usually spends about $30 a month for charcoal which contributes to massive deforestation, which in turn, spike charcoal prices as wood becomes more scarce. Inhaling charcoal smoke also leads to respiratory and cardiac diseases and caused nearly 2 million deaths per year in the developing world.
This is where Cleanstar comes in – offering a market-based solution to a social, environmental and health problem. That, and the fact that Mozambique is now of Africa’s fastest rising economies, has spurred Cleanstar’s key partners – New York-based Cleanstar Ventures, Bank of America and Danish biotech giant Novozymes – to go into a potentially profitable market. The company employs door-to-door salesladies to market and educate their customers about the benefits of a stove that sells for 30 dollars apiece. So far, Cleanstar’s business strategy is working and has so far sold 3,000 stoves.
The initial success has encouraged Cleanstar to look into other markets. Saxana said that they see Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda
as potential markets. ####