Fuelling social-business entrepreneurship in Kenya and beyond

Fuelling social-business entrepreneurship in Kenya and beyond

December 8, 2020

Imagine that when you cook a meal, your only means of doing so is by lighting an open fire inside your kitchen. Thick plumes of black smoke fill the room where you and your family cook and eat every evening. Since this is your only means of cooking, you pay significant amounts every year to buy the fuel for it.

This is the reality for a staggering number of people. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 90% of the population relies on firewood and charcoal as a primary source of energy. With increasing urbanisation and a population that is set to double by 2050, the number of people using these methods in Sub-Saharan Africa alone will rise. The practice is damaging to lives, livelihoods and the planet. The toxic fumes are a health hazard; the costs are high compared to earnings; and large concentrations of greenhouse gases are released, contributing to global heating.

These are the problems that Peter Scott set out to solve when he founded BURN Manufacturing in 2011, a Kenya-based cookstove-manufacturing social business. The mission of the social business is to produce highly efficient biomass cookstoves that significantly reduce the negative health and environmental impact of wood- and charcoal-burning, while reducing the costs for the customers.

IGNITING A COOKSTOVE REVOLUTION IN KENYA

By investing heavily in local research and development, BURN has managed to create a product which is a market leader in terms of fuel efficiency, smoke reduction and durability. With ambitions to make Kenya the leader in Africa for highly efficient cookstoves, its 55% female, 400-strong workforce produces one cookstove every 14 seconds.

The team at BURN are revolutionising the cookstove sector across Sub-Saharan Africa, but to achieve its mission, BURN has needed to access to capital and business support. This is how Peter Scott came across Yunus Social Business, which since 2019 has provided these two vital ingredients to fuel BURN’s successful social impact.

CEO and Founder Peter Scott said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Yunus Social Business. Not only has it provided critical working capital for raw material purchases, but it's also connected us to an amazing network of local investors and distributors.” BURN has seen considerable growth in the last year, which, Mr Scott says, “would not have been possible without Yunus Social Business funds.”

Since gaining support from Yunus Social Business, BURN has been able to impact 2 million lives in the last year alone with better air quality and reduced expenses. In total, BURN has generated 297 million USD in household savings for families and averted 6 million tonnes of emissions through sales of its highly efficient cookstoves.

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