Clean Fuel from Agricultural Waste and Energy-Saving Cookstoves
Appropriate Energy Saving Technologies (AEST) Limited, a social business enterprise of Teso Women Development Intiaitves (TEWDI) manufactures and sells carbonised charcoal briquettes from recycled agricultural waste (groudnut husks) and improved cookstoves to households and institutions in urban and periurban areas in Northeastern Uganda.
Market Growth stage though we are still looking for financial support to help us purchase improved machinery, increase production space and enlarge the skills and capacity of our marketting team to distribute our products as part of the scaling up process.
How does your innovation work?
The briquettes are made from recycled groundnut husks which is then carbonised to make char and cassava porridge is used as a binder. The mixture is passed through an extruder made by improvising a meat grinder. The briquettes are then placed under the sun to dry for two to three days after which they are ready for use and sale. Our carbonised briquettes are smokeless, have a long burning and heating capacity and are far cheaper than wood charcoal. They are also are smokeless leading to reduced respiratory health problems. The stoves on the other hand have improved efficiency rate as opposed to the traditional stove. The improved energy saving stoves includes a fired clay liner with metal claddings, which improves fuel efficiency, enhances combustion conditions, and ensures a better flame stability and systematic airflow. The improved charcoal stove efficiency ranges between 26% - 33%, as opposed to the traditional. The cook stoves thus contribute to reduction of emissions, having a positive impact on the environment and people’s health.
Our carbonised charcoal briquettes are used as an alternative to wood charcoal for cooking and heating. The person cooking just picks a few pieces, places them in a cook stove, lights fire and once the briquettes catch fire, they are ready for cooking. They are smokeless and burn for longer hours compared to wood charcoal. The improved energy saving stoves includes a fired clay liner with metal claddings, which improves fuel efficiency, enhances combustion conditions, and ensures a better flame stability and systematic airflow. We sell charcoal briquettes along with the cook stoves.
Do you have current users or testers?
Our current customer/users include low income households from urban and periurban areas and institutions such as schools, hotels, prisons, poultry farms, etc. that rely firewood and wood charcoal for cooking and heating in northeastern Uganda. The different customer segment in the target area can be broken in terms of percentages as follows; Households 60%, boarding Schools 15%, Restaurants/hotels 20 % and others 5%. For the cook stoves; The Target market for the cook stoves includes; Households 80 %,Schools 10 %(majorly institutional cook stoves ) and Restaurants/hotels 10% (both institutional and bigger domestic cook stoves). In terms of sex, women form a larger section of our customers compared to men because they are the ones who cook according to our culture.
What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?
In order to expand the use of our innovation, we are intesifying education and community awareness creation to help many people know that charcoal briquettes are a viable alternative to wood charcoal and firewood with so many advantages for the users and that switching to improved cookstoves can help them save money spent on fuel. We are also expanding our distribution and marketting network. We are aiming at recruiting 200 people (80%) by 2016 women to work as sales retailers, marketting and offering after sale services to the customers. This would improve customer access to our products thus meeting customer needs. We are expanding distribution to other districts in Uganda as part of our scaling strategy. We are also working on improving our branding and package sizes inorder to ensure that all people even the very poor at the bottom of the pyramid can be able to buy our products.
Decentralise production of bio char by training 100 farmers in carbonisation of waste and recruiting them to supply the bio char to the company at fee by 2016, Intesify fundrasing to purchase machinery to help us increase our production levels so as to meet the current demand created by our community education and awareness rainsing, purchase and or innovate better machinery to improve producion levels, build a factory to centralise the production of cookstoves and charcoal briquettes, intensify marketting by recruiting 200 sales retailers to distribute charcoal briquettes and cookstoves by end of 2016, open 200 sales outlets in different parts of parts of Uganda for product distribution and marketting. Lastly, strenthen our onsite testing laboratory to help us test all our briquettes and cookstoves in an effort to meet international standards.