How Her Company is Looking to Prevent 4 Million Deaths Each Year

On an otherwise reasonable evening in July, over 1000 people packed an auditorium in Boulder Colorado for the culmination of the Unreasonable Institute. They came to watch 12 ventures, tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges, take the stage and share their plans to help define progress in our time. This is one of those talks.

The entrepreneur in this video is Francesca Jones of Greenway Grameen Infra.

What is the urgent social or environmental need you’re addressing?

500 million households globally and 160 million households in India don’t have access to modern cooking fuels & thus rely on burning solid biomass (wood, cow-dung, etc.) in open fires or mud stoves. This cooking method is inefficient & smoky, producing excessive greenhouse gas emissions and dangerous household air pollution. The household air pollution kills 4 million people around the world every year, making it the #1 health risk in all of South Asia. It’s also inconvenient, creating a time & monetary burden on rural consumers due to added fuel purchase or collection and the constant need to tend to the flames.

What is your solution to this need? Describe your business strategy.

We supply rural consumers with convenient, effective & affordable home energy solutions; by utilizing human-centric design, we produce products that actually meet target consumer needs, require little behavior change, and are durable. Our flagship product, the Greenway Smart Stove, reduces fuel usage by 65% & smoke emissions by 80% & has proven highly adoptable. The Smart Stove has meaningful environmental and health benefits, but our consumers seek it out for its quality, convenience and modernity. The product is sold to consumers at a retail price of Rs. 1299 (~$23 USD). It is available through small, locally-owned shops like appliance stores, metal shops, etc. We distribute through established appliance distributors across India, using their knowledge of that particular region & our analysis of demographic data to place the product in high-potential retail shops in small towns and semi-urban areas. Partnerships with financial institutions have allowed us to enhance the affordability of the product, reaching deeper into rural areas.

About the author

Unreasonable Institute

Unreasonable Institute

The Unreasonable Institute arms entrepreneurs creating solutions to the world’s biggest social and environmental problems with the mentorship, capital, and networks they need to do so.

  • Great project but better with more ambition for the technology? The project’s rocket stoves use less wood but still turn all the carbon to CO2 emissions. Biochar stoves also use less wood but produce carbon-negative charcoal as byproduct, which can be mixed with compost to revive soils and forests.

  • Jcoppa

    This is very cool, this company saw a problem and fixed it. I love how such a simple fix can mean the lives for so many, it can mean economic growth for a country. I pray this product get the support it needs and I pray it expands no only in India, but to Africa and Asia as well. Heck, bring it into American’s lives! There are people everywhere that could benefit from this stove.

    I wonder what the next step is, after the USB capabilities?

  • Kaylee Raucci

    I love all of these solutions. It’s sad that not everyone in the world has access to cooking fuels or even clean water. All of this will help in the long run to save our planet and our people in India. 100,000 tons of CO2 is a crazy amount to be reduced each year, and the fact that it is saving 4 million more people is even crazier. I can only hope that this product, and future products o come gets all the support it needs to be succesful.

  • Justin Rudick

    Its crazy to think people still live this way as us Americans, sit back and complain about the color of our appliances. Its awesome to see a group taking notice of the small things we don’t think about when it comes to poverty, and helping these families out and also educating them, so that they can live a happier, better life. I was a little confused to the fact that she made it seem like a television set was somewhat a necessity. Its nice to have, but I think money for that could have been spent elsewhere. I can see the pros and cons of giving them one. Just kinda came off as if they NEEDED it in the begin with. Great work by this group. Look forward to hear more from them and how they help this poverty epidemic.

  • Katy Getsie

    I think the really innovative thing about this product, is not the stove, as she said there are many stoves like this on the market, but that the company tapped into a different way to sell their product. Through using already existing distribution chains, they took into account the cultural norms of the population that they wanted to sell to and used those to their advantage.

  • hasselbemj31

    Wow! It is crazy how much I am learning from this site! I have never thought about this or did it even crossed my mind that cooking like this was so bad for you. I loved the comparison she made, having someone smoke in a car ride with the windows up for a 5 hour drive is equivalent to women cooking in India. I am so happy that we were trying really hard to fix this problem. Not only that but we related to them. We originally made something that we in Europe or the United States thought was a good idea and then we started to think as a person in India. I love that this new product is liked in India because so many people will stay alive longer. It is crazy how many lives we actually saved just by creating this stove.

  • hasselbemj31

    That is something I really loved as well. We thought about people in India, we thought about their needs vs ours. We really dug into their lifestyles and what would work best for them. They get to use everything they used before, wood and dun, the same pots and pans but it just creates a safer environment for them and saves their lives. Not only that though this product gives them something to look at and be proud of.

  • hasselbemj31

    I know it is absolutely crazy. These are things that I never even thought about and took advantage of everyday. I have access to infinitive amount of water everyday and can cook on a stove that I know won’t affect my life. I am so happy that sites like this share what they are doing to make our world a better place. It is so inspiring and makes me want to get up and make a change. I know I’m not a business major but I can still do little things to make a difference.

  • hasselbemj31

    I agree. I loved how this company took 12 months out of their lives to live the lifestyle of someone in India. They realized the product they made was not connecting to their lifestyle and that people do not like change, so they did not give up, they just dug deeper. They made a product that anyone in India could afford and use without changing their previous lifestyle for. Absolutely amazing. Love this!

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  • Lauren Schlicht

    It is just incredible that 200,000 tons of CO2 could be reduced with invention of a fuel efficient stove! I think that this product is changing the lives of so many rural communities/villages. I never realized that the “old fashion” way of cooking could be so unhealthy. I also liked the example she used about driving for 5 hours while a friend smoked the entire time with the windows rolled up. It is truly amazing to see the changes being made by this product. Not only is it saving lives and empowering those around them to buy the “next big thing” its saving our world’s environment. I hope their next invention that generates electricity is a total success!

  • Brooke Bower

    This is a great idea. I never thought about the ways that other countries cooked. It’s shocking to me that people actually die from cooking. Cooking is a basic need and no one should have to put their lives in danger. The cook stove is an amazing product that I believe will help so many people and continue to grow. I think the fact that they looked into why none of the other product stoves sold well in India. After they took the time and researched it, they figured out way. I love the fact that they created the stove in India and had those consumers try it out. I hope they continue to have success.

  • Jessica Andrew

    Thank you for sharing this article! It is amazing that people are able to have many different appliances but they don’t have stoves. Being in that smoke is so unhealthy for the women to be sitting there for that long. The stove that they created is a great idea! It will save many peoples lives and it is affordable! Also, it is able to cook their food faster and they don’t have to breathe in smoke the whole time that they cook. I hope this organization will keep succeeding in their product!

  • Jessica Andrew

    I agree! This also saves a lot of time cooking and the women enjoy cooking more. They aren’t breathing in the smoke all the time and it is affordable! I am glad that they were able to create a product for this country to help improve their lives. I thought it was shocking that they were able to have TVs and cell phones but they didn’t have a stove.

  • Erin

    Wow! The facts about the smoke that women are exposed to during cooking is crazy. That definitely is not healthy for anyone. It is great that she went through and actually asked the India population what type of stove they would like because ultimately it is there opinion that really matters. The stove that they created is awesome because the families can still use wood as fuel during cooking and keep the product affordable. While doing this they are also way more efficient and healthier for those who are using them. Also, the fact that it saves time for them during cooking is very beneficial. Seems like people really responded well to this new product!