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Waste Biomass to Green Energy - Ethiopia

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Despite world wide efforts in providing clean cooking options in developing countries, today, there are still more than 90% of the people in Ethiopia cooking with open fires or simple stoves burning fuels harvested from trees.  The smoke, carbon emissions and tree cutting from this cooking practice have devastating effects on the people’s health and on the environment. Healthy Fire, the social enterprise company we are building in Ethiopia, aims to develop affordable clean cook stoves and environmental friendly fuels at an affordable costs to even the poor households for a long run. Unlike other clean cook stove projects, our cook stoves are tailored specifically for the culture and cooking needs of Ethiopians. We have also developed efficient fuel pellets from waste biomass (sawdust, coffee husk, etc.). Since 2015, my spouse and I have raised $250,000 from our personal savings, family, friends and institutions to fund the research and development of the clean and environmental friendly cook stove and fuel pellet system.  The results from our field tests are very encouraging! However, we are still faced with financial obstacles which we cannot overcome without help from you.

During August 1-12, 2018, Tsegaye Nega, the chief investigator of this endeavor and my spouse, has been working with Chemistry professor Deborah Gross and six students from Carleton College, USA on a pilot distribution of 40 clean stoves that burns the pellets he produced. The response is overwhelmingly positive. In the video, the young Ethiopian mother described the challenges her family faces with electric and charcoal stoves, and how the clean stove works for them.

Because we have not been able to manufacture our stoves in Ethiopia, the stoves distributed are purchased from an European company, at a cost of approximately $140/each, which is well beyond the means of average Ethiopian households. We provided the stoves to the families and small businesses as a loan to test stove performance and our business model.

With your support, we will be able to manufacture 1,000 stoves in Ethiopia at the cost of $35/each, which allows us to provide the stoves at a lower price and gets us to a point where the business can self-sustain with our business model.

Here is what Tsegaye wrote for this campaign:

Hi, my name is Tsegaye Nega. I am a professor of Environmental Studies at Carleton College, Minnesota, U.S.A. For the last five years, I have been working with my colleagues and students at Carleton, and many others, on developing gasifier cook stoves and the biomass fuel pellets that power the stoves. The objective is to introduce the stoves and the fuel pellets to the country of my birth, Ethiopia, to mitigate the devastating health and environmental impacts of using solid fuels (i.e., wood, charcoal, dung cake, crop residue) in open fires or simple stoves. I have invested EVERYTHING I have on the work and the results are very encouraging!

Although effort has been made worldwide to provide clean cooking options in developing countries, progress is very slow in Africa. According to data released by World Health Organization in May 2018, percentage of population relying on polluting cooking options remains more than 95% in Ethiopia 2000-2016.

Our project addresses two factors that contributed to the slow progress in Ethiopia, (1) our business model makes the “gasifier cook stove + fuel pellet” system affordable even for the poor households, (2) our cook stoves are designed for the cooking needs of Ethiopians.

In addition, our project aims to mitigate climate change by producing fuel pellets from waste biomass, e.g. sawdust, coffee husk, spent coffee grounds, and buying back the byproduct, biochar (i.e. charcoal), for use in soil amendment.
The “gasifier cook stove + fuel pellet” system has many features that are attractive to the targeted segments - households, small businesses and institutions such as schools. (1) it is affordable, clean, and highly efficient, (2) the stove can be used to charge cell phones or light a room, and (3) stove users can sell back to the company the byproduct of the system, biochar.
I am currently in Ethiopia for a two-year position (2017 - 2019) as a Fulbright Scholar. Part of the work is to get the “gasifier stove + fuel pellet” system distributed in Addis Ababa. Since September 2017, I have conducted more field tests on the stoves I developed which have patent pending in Ethiopia, and successfully produced blended fuel pellets from additional types of biomass waste including beer labels.

The major obstacle I face now is lack of fund to commercially produce the fuel pellets and the first 1000 stoves for distribution.

I hope to raise $185,000 by December 2018 so I will have time to set up the manufacturing plant before my Fulbright work ends before mid-2019. Here is how the raised fund will be used:

$50,000 to purchase stove assembling equipment. 
$50,000 to design and build shades to house the equipment.    
$50,000 to order the components for the first 1000 stoves.  
$30,000 for operational expenses
An additional $5,000 to cover most of the GoFundMe payment processing fees

The manufacturing system for the stoves and fuel pellets is very capital intensive, but based on my market research once the business is established it has the potential to grow very large. As a conservation biologist I purchase well-made hardware that have long service lives. As a result, annual capital requirements for at least the first five to ten years are literally none.

I believe we are close to get our project up and running. With your help, we can begin saving the lives of more than 30,000 Ethiopians every year (mostly women and children), preventing the other 7 millions from respiratory diseases, reducing black carbon emission, reducing waste, saving trees, and freeing rural Ethiopian girls and women from hours of fire wood collecting every day.

Thank you!


  • Wayne Barstad
    • $500 
    • 5 yrs
  • ACEF, Kenya
    • $300,000 (Offline)
    • 5 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Wei-Hsin Fu
Northfield, MN
Tsegaye Nega

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