Venture Spotlight: Powerstove Energy

Founders: Okey Esse and Glory Esse

The Africa Higher Education Health Collaborative, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, will be welcoming the Health Entrepreneurship (HENT) African Impact Challenge’s second cohort for their upcoming visit to Toronto, where they will continue their implementation phase through activities targeting business development, expanding entrepreneurial networks, and facilitating exposure to potential investors. 

The University of Toronto’s Health Collaborative Internal Communications Working Group caught up with the ventures to learn more about the origins of their companies, what they’ve learned to date, and what is coming up next… 

Powerstove Energy

Okey Esse and Glory Esse were inspired to create Powerstove Energy by their mom, who was a successful local food vendor. For 21 years, she cooked with firewood to support her business but was later diagnosed of a heart condition caused by constant inhaling of toxic smokes from the firewood. Her death inspired the two co-founders to build Powerstove Energy and carry on her legacy of successful entrepreneurial experiences.  

In Nigeria, where approximately 83 million people endure the harsh realities of extreme poverty and food insecurity, the reliance on conventional fuels like charcoal, firewood, and kerosene exacts a heavy toll. The National Bureau of Statistics paints a stark picture: households devote over a quarter of their income to these energy sources, often at great peril to their health. The insidious effects of household air pollution claim the lives of 100,000 Nigerians annually, disproportionately impacting women and children. 

Powerstove designs and manufactures smart smoke-free cookstoves that also self-generate electricity for users to charge their mobile phones and power home appliances using proprietary renewable bio-pellets as fuel. These sustainable, mosquito repellent bio-pellets are produced from post-harvest crops and wood waste. Powerstove uses 70% less cooking fuel when compared with other unsustainable fuelwood sources and is five times faster than traditional stoves. Powerstove users have been shown to save around $300 annually from cooking with the sustainable and renewable fuels. Unlike other cookstoves, it also provides access to free electricity which helps families in last mile communities, or emergency situations, to save hugely on energy costs by upwards of 83%. The Powerstove team is committed to fostering meaningful partnerships with their waste-suppliers, with a focus on households headed by women. They do this, in part, by providing both cash payments and health insurance to all women waste suppliers and their families. 

What is the accomplishment to date that your team is most proud of?  
“Powerstove has reached 2,671,900 livelihoods by selling 500,000+ units of Powerstove generating 28,000 kwh of clean electricity per day per household, generated an aggregate savings for households of approximately US$143 million yearly (that adds up to US$300 per year for a household – that is money in their pocket, not spent on toxic wood fuels). Nigeria produces 10 million tons of wood waste from local sawmills and wood industries, with no proper waste management system. Powerstove collects and upcycle the sawdust, turning it into sustainable and clean bio-pellets, reducing GHG emissions by 60,192 mtCo2 annually and saving over 4,000,000 trees.” 

If you could give advice to another founder getting started, what would that be?  

“Take risks, listen to your heart and be the most hardworking staff of your company.” 

Looking ahead, the team is looking to continue fostering sustainable growth by introducing Powerstove Kits (PKs), a do-it-yourself, ready-to-assemble version of the Powerstove. This innovation will facilitate the export of the product, further assisted by their ability to flatpack ship the product. The team will in turn provide training to local partners for assembling with minimal resources. PKs address challenges related to high freight costs and duties, which will assist in keeping pricing competitive. They also hope their innovation can generate local employment in host countries, and to scale the number of women waste-suppliers to 3,000 by 2025. 

You can learn more about Powerstove Energy

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