Cookstoves Yield New Model For Social Entrepreneurs
In the past, I’ve covered cookstoves five times [author Devin Thorpe], excluding the time I went to Nepal to help locals install cleaner cookstoves in village homes up in the Himalaya. We’re here again, but we’re turning our focus on the business model rather than the cookstove.
For social entrepreneurs who really want to make a difference for people in the developing world, helping locals to import technology from elsewhere can be counterproductive because cash leaves the local economy and opportunities for entrepreneurs may be limited.
Anthony “Tony” Robinson, not to be confused with Tony Robbins, is a professor at undefinedTrinity College Dublin in Ireland; his research into energy and thermal conduction has helped him design a simple stove that generates electricity while a family cooks on the stove. More importantly, he’s developing a new way to get the stoves into local consumers hands in Malawi.
“We are attempting to develop a business model for developing world technologies, in this case clean energy technology. We believe that if a technology is to be sustainable, from an economic standpoint, then it must be engineered in such a way that it is at an appropriate technical level for local manufacture (close to consumer manufacturing),” he says.
By manufacturing the stoves in country, the skills necessary to service and repair the stoves will also reside in country. This will also serve to keep costs low and the profits circulating in the local economy.