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. Donations 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.
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
“[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.”
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. 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?
- You can donate $40 or more to help one of their campaigns. The donation is through the Paradigm Foundation, a not for profit organization.
- Use Social Media to help tell their story.
- Watch and share their Stove Man video. It is a wonderful trailer showing the work that the Company is doing and the impact of their work. Bring a tissue or handkerchief.
- Start a Club at school to help raise funds.
- Contact the Paradigm Project if your company would like to offset its carbon footprint by purchasing carbon credits or is seeking a social enterprise in which to donate.
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.