Kenneth has been working with women’s groups in Kibera, Kawangware and Ruiru since 2002. Through this work, he observed that many local residents were suffering from illnesses related to smoke inhalation and contaminated water,“poor families [were] suffering from common water borne diseases such as diarrhea just because they could not afford to boil water for drinking or were not in a position to afford the water purification chemicals. Many women would also speak of a lack of time to boil water."
In response to this challenge, Kenneth designed a multipurpose fuel efficient cookstove called EARS (Energy All Round Stove). The stove is compatible with different types of biomass, and features an inner jacket that can be filled with up to seven liters of water. This unique feature both improves the efficiency of heat transfer, and also allows for water to boil whilst cooking. Once boiled, the water is 95% free from bacteria and contaminants.
Over the last three years Kenneth has tested and refined the product. He is now looking to scale up production, but is facing a number of challenges. “My greatest obstacle,” he said, “has been getting a reliable person or organization that could fabricate the stove and maintain standards. This made me lose a very lucrative supply [contract] to a reputable organization . The other challenge is finances to support the fabrication [of the stoves] at a reliable facility and also to develop the distribution and marketing model that I have designed.”
In September 2012 Kenneth applied for support from the CIC to address these challenges. GVEP International, as the lead partner for advisory services to the CIC, has been working closely with Kenneth since then to identify and evaluate manufacturing options (e.g. evaluating the pros and cons of manufacturing stoves components like lining and cladding separately vs. together), evaluate potential manufacturing partners, review stove transportation options, and prepare applications for financing. “I was attracted to the CIC due to its goal of assisting innovators… So far I would say the technical advice and support in visiting and identifying credible fabrication facilities have been of great benefit.”
Going forward, the CIC will further assist Kenneth to quantify the company’s financial needs, and to identify sources of working capital and other forms of financing.