In 2014 Greenway won an award for their work in providing affordable, desirable cookstoves to improve the quality of life for women and girls in India.
Founded in 2011 by two MBA graduates, Greenway produces Smart Stoves as a modern replacement for the traditional mud stoves used across India. With over 85% of rural and 65% of urban households using biomass as a fuel source, the Smart Stove helps significantly reduce health damaging smoke whilst also providing fuel savings of up to 65%.
At the time of their Ashden Award in 2014 Greenway had already sold over 120,000 Smart Stoves, benefitting around 610,000 people. As well as the health benefits mentioned, the sale of these stoves and the fuel savings they provide help reduce deforestation and, as a result, greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to about 200,000 tonnes per year of CO2.
In an interview with Ankit Mathur, Co-Founder, we learn about Greenway’s progress over the past few years and where they’re headed next.
Why is clean energy for women and girls important? Why was this issue important to you?
Women and girls bear a disproportionate burden of lack of access to clean energy. They’re the ones who have to travel to collect fuel and water, cook food and then tend to younger kids as well as the house. It affects their security and hampers the opportunities available to come out of poverty, energy or otherwise. It’s an important issue to be addressed as it impacts the overall growth of the household and eventually economic growth of the nation as a whole.
What has Greenway been up to since winning an Ashden Award in 2014?
One of the first things that we did after winning the Ashden Award was to set up a factory that became operational in January 2015. Today, we run India’s largest cookstove factory and have the capacity to produce more than 500,000 stoves a year, given demand and working capital. We employ over 50 operators, including 11 women, at the factory. We raised equity capital sometime in December 2015 and focused our energy on understanding our customers better and reaching out to them in more remote areas. Since winning an Ashden Award, we’ve worked all the way from Jammu and Kashmir in the North to Tamil Nadu in the South, and Gujarat in the West to Nagaland in the East. We now have over 150 people (including factory staff) with Greenway.
Recently, we added Greenway FreeTV to our product portfolio. This is a Satellite Antenna and Set Top Box that allows customers to watch over 200 channels for free, including a number of education channels that broadcast classroom lectures and lessons. We’re collaborating with distributors and mini-grid players to reach out to a similar set of target customers as Greenway Stoves to sell Greenway FreeTV.
How has Greenway changed the way India cooks?
Greenway has made huge progress in making stoves an accepted product category. We’ve sold over 550,000 stoves since inception with a majority going to paying customers. By ensuring that the users pay for a good quality product, we’ve ensured that consumer confidence builds up and that stoves will become a multi-million category in the near future.
Have you seen any changes at national level in renewable energy in India?
One of the reasons we started Greenway was to enhance business to consumer interventions because policy level changes take time to show results on the ground. Furthermore, in the field of access to energy, the key stakeholder (i.e. the household without access) is missing from the list of stakeholders who participate in decisions. Having said this, the conversation around clean cooking as a key issue has seen increased importance with the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in 2016. The PMUY is a welfare programme in India which aims to provide subsidised clean and more efficient liquified petroleum gas (LPG) connections to below poverty line households. However, visible results, by way of increased usage, are yet to be seen.
What’s your biggest hope for the sustainable energy sector in India?
The increasing number of entrepreneurs taking initiatives in diverse industries present the biggest hope. Some of these business models will succeed and improve access to clean energy.
What’s next for Greenway? What do the next few years have in store?
We will continue to deepen our reach within India and keep taking initiatives to expand globally. We’ve recently been shortlisted (along with a local partner) for supplying stoves in Afghanistan and have been active in Nepal for past couple of years. Greenway will also design and manufacture appliances that increase the quality of life for our target consumers.