To increase food security in Africa and stem the human and environmental costs of indoor cooking with charcoal, the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) and the Industrialisation Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) would invest nearly $9-million in cooking fuel company CleanStar Mozambique to help distribute its ethanol-fired stoves.
The new investment would create 1 000 jobs in Mozambique by late 2014 and would substantially improve the incomes of smallholder farmers.
CleanStar Mozambique will be able to support 2 000 smallholder farming families to increase production of nutritious staple food crops and surplus cassava, with the latter being used to make ethanol-based cooking fuel.
“CleanStar Mozambique has found a commercial and scalable way to alleviate poverty in Africa,” said SEDF president Stewart Paperin. “We would like to see the charcoal replacement business operate successfully in dozens of countries throughout the continent.”
With over $10-billion spent yearly on charcoal-based cooking across the continent, CleanStar’s business model is likely to be feasible in over 40 major African cities.
The investment would also help the company expand its cooking fuel distribution and retail infrastructure to reach 80 000 customers in Maputo by late 2014.
Each ethanol cook stove would enable net greenhouse-gas emissions reductions of approximately eight tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent a year versus a traditional charcoal stove. Taken to scale, this business would significantly reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.
CleanStar Mozambique works with farmers to grow a variety of crops that it processes into food and cooking fuel products for sale in local markets.
The company provides the farmers with improved planting materials and technical assistance and then purchases whatever food products the families themselves do not consume at rural agricultural centers based around the company’s first integrated processing plant in Dondo.
Surplus cassava is converted to ethanol-based cooking fuel, flour and chicken feed, while surplus beans, sorghum, pulses and soya are processed into packaged food products for sale in Mozambique’s cities.
The cooking fuel is bottled and sold along with modern cook stoves to low-income households in Maputo through the company’s own network of branded retail outlets.