SMEFUNDS GEB – Partner of the Month
What does your company seek to achieve in Nigeria’s cooking energy market?
Over 95,000 people, mainly women and children, die every year from indoor air pollution in Nigeria. Respiratory problems, skin cancer, eye problems, food poisoning, and threats to women safety are results from overexposure to unhealthy cooking fuels.
An estimated 84% of households lack access to quality cooking and lighting fuels. This situation compels families to depend wholly on inferior and health-damaging wood and kerosene fuel. With these overwhelming indicators it is clear that the population in Nigeria is desperate for clean cooking energy.
Our vision is a Nigeria where our women don’t have to die because they have to cook. We intend to provide low-cost, clean, and safe energy cooking alternative for households. Our long term vision is to improve the quality of health of 84% Nigerian households, by minimizing the environmental impact, through an activity which wastes are all reused, and using a fuel that does not emit pollutants, improve the quality of health of local households to be served, decrease the deforestation caused by users of the wood stoves, the level of domestic pollution, by encouraging the use of the biofuel stoves, replacing the traditional wood-fired stoves and generate jobs.
Why should Nigerians switch over to Ethanol for Cooking?
A lot of households in Nigeria depend on fossil fuels. Desperately poor families must either buy expensive charcoal or kerosene or walk for miles seeking scarce firewood. Nigeria also has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, at over 3.3% per year. In the evenings, women can be seen returning home after a long day’s drudgery of gathering, carrying enormous bundles of fuel wood on their head. In the urban centers, up to 9% of households depend on kerosene to supplement fuel wood; about 1% depends on LPG. The use of kerosene has been plagued by a corrupt distribution system, long queues, poor quality and condensate–laden kerosene that burns with high emissions of soot and particulate matter. Contaminated kerosene has also continued to claim lives in Nigeria.
Ethanol Gel Cooking Fuel is made from bio-based waste products and sells below the cost of kerosene. Our bio ethanol cooking gel is also made from water hyacinth, sawdust and other waste products, which form wastes and threatens the ecosystem. This clears the environment of these wastes, to be used as clean energy and add clean air to the community.
It is much safer than kerosene. The biofuel gels by product is oxygen, it will not burn ones skin, even if it comes into direct contact after cooking, it is a non-pressurized and non-toxic making explosions impossible and it does not splat.
What motivated you to start your business?
I lost my grandmother (Mama Kike) to lung related diseases, which was linked to constant smoke inhalation. An average African woman smokes 400 packet of cigarette a day just because she is cooking for her family. There were so many scenarios in my environment and I decided to contribute towards making a change by providing a better alternative. Cooking should not kill.
While seeking answers to the challenges I face in building several small businesses that failed in the early days as an entrepreneur, I fell in love with Network Marketing business and industry as the only sure path to building enduring, Social-Benefit and Profitable business in such a crazy economy as ours. I had only one dream, if I could help a woman save money, stay healthy and earn income, I would have succeeded. In 2011 when the first bottle of Ethanol Gel and Cook Stove was sold, I knew Success is sacrosanct!
What are the opportunities in the business environment that have supported your business over the years?
We saw opportunities where millions saw Waste, Impossibility, Risk, Unproven model, Thousands of Tons of Food, Agricultural and Industrial wastes are left unprocessed every year; Little did I Know my Gold was dressed in Rags, everyone else look elsewhere, but I identified this.
Our raw materials are made from waste products all readily available. We are one of the few commercial producers of ethanol cooking fuel from waste products in the world and the first in Africa. With the increasing unemployment rate, mass lay-offs and companies forcing thousands on early retirements; there created an opportunity to grow a massive network of green entrepreneurs who will champion training, education and support for wide adoption of Green and Clean Technologies in Africa
How are your customers reacting to your products in the market – benefits of using your product?
Our product has been greatly embraced by the community all over Nigeria and elsewhere because of the simplicity of our stove and the numerous advantage of our cooking gel. With over 350,000 households using our clean cook stove and ethanol gel for their cooking needs.
SMEFUNDS GEB has sequestrated over 600Mtonnes of carbon dioxide emission, empowered over 18,000 women, 22 distribution centers, created 154 direct jobs and Some 45,000 indirect jobs. In the past 3 years.
Not only are we reducing carbon emission, addressing deforestation, health and death issues relating to carbon emissions, but we have empowered more women to start their own businesses part time or full time, creating a source of income for families and improving their livelihoods, giving them the opportunity to work at their own time attending to families and building their green businesses.
The international community is promoting green economy. How is your product and similar products in Nigeria going to help the country grow her own green economy – in terms of providing employment and addressing climate change?
With about 3,000,000 Litres of Bio Gel sold to displace harmful kerosene. Our Biofuel Gel are made from biomass wastes (Water Hyacint and Sawdust without a threat to food security, instead we are clearing the environment of waste products and turning them into renewable energy. Our technology has immensely reduced the use of firewood by our women. Women who use our cooking gel do not have to cut down trees when there is Kerosene scarcity, they have an alternative that is safe and cheaper than the deadly kerosene with our hundred thousand (300,000) homes are using our clean cook stove and ethanol gel for their cooking needs.
The vision and message behind this technology has already brought the interest of National and International organizations, State and Federal government are also getting involved. Our product has formed major reference for most State and Local Governments in Nigeria as to the best methodology in designing policy and action on Gender, Sustainable Development and Clean Cook Stoves strategy for fighting Indoor air pollution.
Our Project utilizes the waste and other resources that would have been burnt into the atmosphere thereby creating health and environmental hazards. We have built and will continue to foster international relationships with key institutions within the value chain, create more awareness and provide more jobs in Nigeria.
How has the finance from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves promoted your business?
The finance from the Global Alliance for Cook stoves has helped SMEFUNDS GEB reach a lot of customers in short period, also helping to make prices very competitive to kerosene. With the Alliance Support, a State of the art Production facility has been installed helping to increase productivity.
If you are asked to set up an agenda in relation to clean cooking for the new government in Nigeria, what would be your suggestions?
The new government should not look outside Nigeria for solution to clean cooking, but look inward for a long lasting solution. They should invest more and work with companies producing clean stoves and help solve unnecessary death and sickness related to cooking with fossil fuels. Aside supporting local production of clean Cook stoves, capacity development and training on women entrepreneurship and management.
Where do you envisage being in the next 5 years in terms of production?
In the next 5 years, we will create additional 4,000 direct jobs and over 500,000 indirect jobs, with women prominently engaged on the project and improve the quality of health of up to 10 million Nigerian households.
We target to reach 5 million Nigerians switched to Kike Green Stoves and using Biofuel Ethanol Gel for their cooking.
What risk does your business face and what is your biggest challenge?
Access to required technical and Legal Support especially in Engineering/Bioprocess optimization. We also consider human capital capacity gap need for the positioning of the scale up phase for our ethanol gel. Patient capital is needed to test new market and long-term debt is required to scale efforts without which such impact might not be possible.
What are your suggestions for moving the cooking energy market forward in Nigeria?
Concerted effort is required to strengthen the Nigeria Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves by encouraging more stakeholders to participate in knowledge, information and best practices shared among members.
Private, Public, Government and Social organizations need to build coalition to set ambitious agenda for the Sector and promote the wider adoption of the cook stove in the country. Creating more awareness and providing funds, support, awareness and grants.
Is there any other thing you would like to share?
Please visit our websites with the links below to learn more about us.