Envirofit: Introducing clean cookstoves to reduce indoor air pollution
Challenge: Indoor air pollution generated from cooking on makeshift stoves is a major health hazard throughout the developing world. Nearly half the world’s population uses open fires or rudimentary stoves fueled with wood, dung, and charcoal for home cooking. It is a method that is both inefficient, sometimes wasting up to 90% of the fuel, and dangerous. Indoor air pollution resulting from open fires emits the equivalent smoke of 400 cigarettes per hour.
Solution: Envirofit International of Fort Collins, Colorado was formed 13 years ago in a spinoff from Colorado State University’s Engines and Energy Conservation Lab, with a mission to develop solutions to global energy and health challenges. The business has put much of its focus on developing clean cookstoves to reduce indoor air pollution, and has worked to develop a simple appliance with built-in handles for ease of use and a long-lasting metal combustion chamber, that was both affordable and functional.
Envirofit won Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment Award in 2009, and was named one of The Economist’s energy and the Environment Innovators of the Year in 2013.
OPIC committed a $4 million loan to Envirofit to help it expand its reach throughout the developing world. Envirofit is working to introduce its clean cookstoves in 44 countries including Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and India.
Impact: Households that adopt clean cookstoves can significantly reduce indoor air pollution and often save money on fuel as well. Naomi (pictured) is a hairdresser in Kumasi, Ghana who purchased an Envirofit cookstove, and after seeing the benefits, helped introduce the technology to other families in her community.