It is estimated that in the developing economies some 3 billion people cook their food on open fires, using solid fuel, usually wood. Apart from polluting the atmosphere, the smoke from the fires kills an estimated 3 million people, mainly women, and children, prematurely. Since 2002, Gyapa Enterprises (www.gyapa.com) has been addressing this problem in Ghana and is believed to have reduced the production of CO2 by 4 million tonnes. It has done this through the introduction of an innovative cooking stove that not only cooks food more quickly but is less smoky and uses 46% less fuel, thereby reducing carbon emissions, the inhalation of toxic fumes, and the deforestation of the country’s natural landscape. In total, almost 1.5 million stoves have been sold in Ghana by what was initially a start-up business funded by USAID, Shell, Relief International, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The stoves, which come in three sizes, are hand-made out of recycled steel with a ceramic lining. They were introduced to Ghana by EnterpriseWorks, a division of Relief International, and manufactured locally by 1000 trained metal artisans and accredited ceramicists. Selling at an affordable $10 a stove, achieved partly through carbon credit financing in partnership with JP Morgan’s ClimateCare, they are distributed via a network of 600 local retailers. In total, some 1.5 million stoves have been purchased and users have saved around $100 a year on fuel bills. This, Gyapa estimates, is an overall saving of something in the order of $57 million since 2007, when the partnership with ClimateCare was formed.
Some 17,000 stoves are produced each month and each has a 3-year guarantee. If they do break down or are damaged, however, they can be repaired quite easily as they are manufactured locally, often by entrepreneurs who have been able to scale up their businesses as a result of trading with Gyapa. Indeed at least two of these suppliers have gone on to establish their own, separate stove-making enterprises.
With the aid of carbon credit financing, Gyapa is not only carrying out market research but innovating and piloting several new high-impact products. These include a household water filter, CrystalPur, which it introduced in 2010 in partnership with the Arthur Guinness Fund. Over 13,500 of these have been sold also, but the stove remains their cash cow and according to Rhiannon Szmigielski of ClimateCare, “Gyapa is the highest-selling Gold standard fuel-efficient stove in the world”.
Apart from impacting positively on the climate (SDG 13), life on land (SDG 15), and energy production and consumption (SDG 7), Gyapa is creating jobs and economic growth (SDG 8) and helping to reduce poverty (SDG1). At the same time, it is contributing to the improvement in health (SDG 3) by reducing the inhalation of toxic fumes and aiding gender equality (SDG 5) by reducing the time women, usually, spend on cooking and collecting firewood. Additionally, though indirectly, it contributes to improving education standards not just through the provision of training but through increasing incomes. As one stockist observed, “I can sell 900 liners a month which gives me enough money to send my son to school”.
“The business model is unique” claims Atsu Titiati, Relief International’s Ghana Country Director, “in addition to consumer and environmental benefits, the manufacture and sale of these stoves has created employment opportunities” he observes.
This is exactly what the Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society is aiming to change. Instead of the business model being unique it needs to be the norm if entrepreneurship is to address the sustainability challenge – entrepreneurial ventures must address the UN SDGs, integrate or harmonise the economic, eco, humane, and social approaches to entrepreneurship and produce a Triple Bottom Line business model of profit-people-planet.
Marabito, M., (2020), innovative Cook stove by Gyapa Enterprises Helps Many in Ghana. Borgen Magazine.2nd November.
Szmigielski, R., (undated), Gyapa Cookstoves for more efficient cooking.GNESD. Availble: https://energy-access.gnesd.org
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