Eighteen months ago, we received an unexpected call from D-Lab at MIT. It was Saida Benhayoune, the newly appointed director of D-Lab’s Scale-Ups Program. The call went something like this: “We’re launching a new initiative designed to scale up access to simple technology solutions for poor people in the developing world. Would you be interested in working together in aggressively boosting access to better technology and fuel solutions for people who depend on wood, charcoal, and animal dung around the world?”
“Heck, yeah!” we answered. It was a no-brainer.
In January we launched the Harvest Fuel Initiative, a joint collaboration that incubates social enterprises in Africa working to deploy truly renewable solid biomass fuels and better combustion technologies, like fuel briquettes made of ag waste, improved charcoal kilns, and clean burning cookstoves.
Twelve months later, HFI has invested technological expertise, business resources, and close to US$100,000 in four promising companies in Africa that are delivering results. TCP has been able to engage in this work because of your strong financial support and we hope this will continue in 2014.
Outlook for 2014
Last week Sylvia and I met with our partners at D-Lab to review our program. The highlight of our meeting was seeing the preliminary results from a survey of consumers that have switched to using briquettes from two of HFI’s enterprises. The data suggests consumers are loving the new fuels and stoves. The briquettes are seen as burning cleaner and longer than charcoal. What’s more, users say they consume less fuel than they would if they were using charcoal, which is already an improvement on woodfuel. This translates into savings of time and money, which is exactly the type of assumption we are attempting to validate.
Together all these improvements are benefiting thousands of men, women, and children in some of the poorest corners of Africa. We feel good about this achievement and we hope you feel like you did your part by supporting our efforts in 2013.
Our hope for 2014 and 2015 is to see tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of people benefiting from TCP and D-Lab’s collaboration in HFI.
We hope you will join us in achieving this vision!
Sylvia and Kim