Stove Project Impacts Indigent Women and Earth. The Paradigm Project

Rocket Stoves from the Paradigm Project. Helping Indigent Women and the Enviroment

Rocket Stoves from the Paradigm Project. Helping Indigent Women and the Enviroment

With all of our creature comforts, it is hard to imagine that somewhere in the world woman are carrying wood on their back for miles so that they can cook meals.  Worse yet, their health is deteriorating  from smoke inhalation from their cooking fires.  The Paradigm Project  was started to change these women’s lives by supplying them with a cleaner burning alternative in the form of a portable, efficient burning stove.   What I found so unique is the Company’s self-sustainable business model.  Donors are appreciated but not required.

 

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Greg Spencer, Jr., co-founder of The Paradigm Project.   Greg explains during his video and podcast interview the Company’s business model and the impact they are having on the lives of third world country women.  I highly recommend you listen.  Greg is a very engaging speaker.

Why Stoves?

My first thought when I interviewed Greg was why stoves?  The Company could pick from a multitude of projects to help third world countries.  However, as Greg states in the interview over 3 billion people cook on an open fires.  For women cooking in their huts, it is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day as they inhale the open fire’s smoke.  The smoke is full of soot.

In addition, young children are at risk as well.  Pneumonia is the number one killer of children under the age of 5.  The risk of contracting pneumonia is  increased due to poor indoor air pollution such as cooking and heating with biomass fuels (such as wood or dung.)

The Company’s founders came up with a solution  to bring cleaner burning technology to these women and reduce their need for wood through the use of portable Rocket stove technology.  The stove needs less wood to burn efficiently.

They brought together investors and donors to fund the first project in Kenya.  However, on an ongoing basis, the Company taps into the carbon market to fund their projects.  Their goal was not to keep tapping donors but be self-sustainable.

A self-sustaining non-profit concept without tapping donors.  Now, he had me intrigued.

The Business Model

Greg explains the Company is not a pure profit or non-profit company.  He calls the company a sustainable social enterprise since they are advancing a social good.  The sustainable part of the equation is the Company makes enough money to further their work.  In doing so, they have devised a business which can tap in the carbon offset market for funding.

In a nutshell, Greg explains open fires cause an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.  Another company like Google might want to reduce their own carbon footprint and want to buy carbon offset credits.  This project qualifies as a way for a company to offset their carbon footprint.

The Income Impact

What Greg is hoping is that investors see the human aspect of what the Company is doing.  The Women in Kenya are spending 30 hours a week sourcing wood.  The time gained from sourcing less wood could mean a better family life and time to create another business to help alleviate their poverty.

The Company states that $280 a year is saved by these families using the Rocket Stoves.  That sum may not mean much money in terms of our lives, but the Company provides the following perspective:

“Most of us in this world are living on less than $2 USD a day(1). Up to 35% of that income can be spent on fuel for cooking over open fires, which is incredibly taxing on a family’s ability to pay school fees, purchase food or seeds for planting crops or even just every day necessities. The “income saved” refers to the money that the family will save from purchasing 40%-60% less cooking fuel through the use of our Rocket Stoves.

WHAT ONE STOVE CAN DO: $ 0.31: typical amount spent on daily fuel wood for those who purchase it | .31 * 365 = $113.15 in annual fuel costs | 50%: typical fuel savings of fuel efficient cook-stove | $113.15 * 50% = $56.58 in annual fuel cost savings or $282.90 in income saved per stove over 5 years.”

The Environmental Impact

In addition to the affects on the income of the families, sourcing wood for fuel has a great impact on the environment.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that yearly global forest loss in the 1990s was 16.1 million hectares in which the highest loss of forests were attributed to Africa and South America.  Forest destruction was mainly due to agricultural expansion, fuel wood, and logging. Deforestation causes loss of biodiversity, soil depletion, erosion, and climate change

The Company further states

“[i]t is estimated that 25% of all global CO2 emissions are generated from the rural poor. That’s more than all global transportation emissions combined(2)! This is largely because the rural poor have no access to better, more efficient technologies. But with our Rocket Stoves that are 40%-60% more efficient than an open fire, “emissions” are reduced by 1 to 2 metric tons per Rocket Stove each year. That’s a hard quantity to grasp, but 1 metric ton equals 2,200 pounds. “Emissions” or greenhouse gases are byproducts that are released from a certain activity. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and an activity that creates it could be driving a car, firing and running a coal plant or, in this case, burning wood to cook.”

 Their Progress

At the time of the interview, the Company has provided over 30,000s stoves since November of 2010. The Company projects that they will provide over 60,000 stoves by the end of this year.  For more information about their progress, see here.  On this page, you can see the amount of stove provided as well as their total financial and environmental impact.   The Paradigm Project plans to expand their program into Guatemala this year.  Their goal by 2020 is to provide 5 million stove to third world countries.

How Can You Be Part of the Program?

Join the Conversation:

  • How do you feel about this project?
  • Where you aware of indigent women’s cooking plight?
  • How do you feel about their business model?
  • Would you donate to a program like this?

As always, please share and like this article on Facebook, twitter and your other social media outlets. The buttons are right there to the left of the article.  Yes, those annoying hovering buttons.   Let the world know about the Paradigm Project and the wonderful work they are doing.


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Comments

  1. 1

    Georgina Wong says

    Interesting article. I had a look at the website and there is not much information on the manufacture and maintenance of this product. Where are the stoves imported from and are local people trained to maintain them? What is the design life and what support do communities get to ensure the stoves are replaced when they become unsafe? How are the stoves vented? I am sure these questions have all been thought about as it is backed by some big charities, and the answers may be tucked away in the website somewhere. Many thanks!

    • 2

      says

      Georgina, great questions. I know some of the Rocket Stoves are being built by a Kenya company and they are portable. I have asked Greg to answer your questions. The site is kind of quiet about the stoves. I look forward to hearing what Greg has to say.

  2. 3

    says

    Hi Georgina!

    Thanks so much for your question. First of all, we as The Paradigm Project are “stove agnostic” meaning that we don’t prescribe one stove solution for a country or even a single community. We want to provide choice for the women and communities that we work with. Currently in Kenya, we import from an organization out of Colorado called Envirofit (www.envirofit.org) via their manufacturer in China. The other stove currently used in Kenya is called the “Jiko Poa”, which means the “cool, right stove”. This stove is manufactured in Nairobi, Kenya. Each stove has a one year warranty where we will replace any product that fails due to manufacturers defects under normal use. We have sales and warranty agents all over Kenya that work with our retailers and manufacturers to ensure that stoves are working properly and being used properly (if we don’t our project will fail due to compromising our carbon offset program that creates the sustainable delivery of clean cookstoves). The stoves are based on the “rocket technology” that has been around for over 20 years. You can see the features and essence of a rocket stove here: http://www.theparadigmproject.org/the-stove. These stoves are portable so they are not “vented” per say like a stove in Central or South America would be.

    Both of these stoves went through a serious vetting process that tested nearly 10 different clean cookstoves and these two rose to the top as the most desired by communities where we conducted our focus group testing (Marsabit, Meru and Nairobi).

    Does that answer your questions? Let me know if you’ve got any others. Thanks again for asking!

    Best Regards,

    Greg

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