Aidex Voices

Envirofit is a social enterprise designing, producing, and selling efficient, durable and affordable cookstoves that create environmental, health, and social impacts for homes and institutions in developing nations. We caught up with CEO Ron Bills to discuss their “One Million Cookstoves” initiative.

Envirofit recently surpassed the one millions cookstoves sold mark and we couldn’t have done it without collaboration. As a social-enterprise with a business-to-business model, collaboration with our partners in the financing and distribution of our clean-energy products has been critical to reaching the 5 million people whose livelihoods have been improved by replacing their traditional and unimproved cooking methods with a clean low-cost, high-performing biomass cookstove. 

In our recent report compiling the lessons learnt along the way towards this milestone, we’ve highlighted the importance of cultivating relationships with people and institutions who have the knowledge and ability to make modern clean energy technology available to families living on a few dollars a day, ensuring access for them even in some of the most remote areas in the world. 

A good example of this is the work we did with the Himalayan Stove Project, our longtime distribution partner in Nepal. When devastating earthquakes struck Nepal in April and May of this year, Himalayan Stove Project immediately began efforts to deliver clean cooking solutions to affected families, particularly those from villages in the Langtang Valley. Many of these villages were completely wiped out by landslides after a 7.8 magnitude quake struck on April 25. 

Often one of the most overlooked issues in disaster areas is a lack of fuel resources, which makes it difficult to cook for and feed those affected. Transporting stoves to these areas is another challenge. By combining Himalayan Stove Project’s regional expertise with our global supply-chain logistics, affected families who relocated to Katmandu received household clean cookstoves that use 60% less fuel. This helped them immediately while they were displaced and long-term when they took them back home. Also affected were a number of monasteries, who received our 100-liter capacity institutional stoves, which cut down fuel usage by 80%. These stoves were distributed in pairs for the cooking of Dal-bhat, the traditional meal of rice and beans served throughout the Himalayas.  

We’ve also been fortunate to work with the Honduran government in developing a new stove, Grameen Koota through microfinance in India, and a dedicated group of female last-mile entrepreneurs in rural Kenya, all of whom have helped us to strive towards our goal of alleviating global energy inequality and lowering exposure to household air pollution for the 3.5 billion people worldwide who cook using solid fuel.

More attention than ever is being paid to sustainable, clean-energy products. Goal seven of the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. With this in mind, we’re excited by the opportunities for future collaboration that lie ahead and we look forward to exploring them with partners from across the aid and development sector.