Notes from the Field: Haiti Clean Cookstove Program Expanding Reach

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

clean cookstove vendor forum_haiti
Jean Gabriel and Sebastian Africano lead a Zanmi Pye Bwa clean cookstove vendor forum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Trees, Water & People’s Haiti Program Manager, Jean Gabriel, continues to deliver in Port-au-Prince, expanding the Zanmi Pye Bwa (ZPB) sales force to include vendors in four other Haitian cities.  In the past few months, hundreds of these clean cookstoves have been sold, and prototyping work has started on a new double burner cookstove.  From our years of work in the sector, we know that replacing one burner in a biomass fuel-dependent household only solves half the problem.

clean cookstoves Haiti
Clean cookstoves ready for Haitian families to use!

The double burner model we are developing is two fuel-efficient charcoal stoves in one body – a solution not currently offered in the Haitian marketplace, apart from those we sell through our vendors.  Our current goal is to bring the cost of this unit down while keeping quality and durability high.  Purchasing power in Haiti’s urban areas is still low, so we work to educate people on how an investment like this pays for itself in a matter of weeks in fuel savings alone.  Results with lay-away and micro-credit have been growing – we know that once the stove is in a users hands, they will not want to return to their previous stoves.

Our donors are what drives the successes of this cookstove program.  Our long-term goals are to make the ZPB a locally owned product, manufactured, marketed and sold by a network of local entrepreneurs.  We are far enough down the road to know that the product is solid and sought after, and now we are focusing on how to make the venture sustainable.  This includes developing a robust market for replacement parts, compiling a network of artisans who can repair and refurbish the stove, and organizing all these entrepreneurs under a common banner, knowing that this gives our program the best chance of expanding long after we are gone.

The challenge is big, and we can only tackle it with your help.  Thank you for your support!

>>To make a donation to this project click here.<<

Notes from the Field: Creating a Clean Cookstove Market in Port-au-Prince

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

Jean Marie Gabriel holds a traditional Haitian charcoal bucket, which is very inefficient and expensive to cook with, costing families a considerable amount of money on fuel expenditures.

With more than 15 vendors recruited to sell the Zanmi Pye Bwa (ZPB) Cookstove at different points throughout the Port-au-Prince, Trees, Water & People’s Haiti Program Manager, Jean-Marie Gabriel, has taken to the TWP cookstove program like a fish to water.  This is only moderately surprising – he grew up in Port-au-Prince, and his 10 years in the U.S. have not allowed him to forget the ins and outs of this vast, urban labrynth.  His strategy is methodical: identify popular retailers of common goods in high-traffic sectors of the city, build a relationship, show them the product, and invite them to be trained at TWP’s Port-au-Prince office.

The Zanmi Pye Bwa cookstoves are sold throughout Port-au-Prince.

Most accept.  Once there, the group of vendors is shown an educational presentation about deforestation, the impact of excessive charcoal use on a family’s budget and the environment, and how the Zanmi Pye Bwa can help to alleviate these impacts.  Features and benefits of the stove are highlighted, and the vendors are prodded to come up with sales tactics – an innovative, interactive challenge that leads to role-play, laughter, and confidence that the ZPB cookstove has value that others do not.

The Zanmi Pye Bwa pays for itself in a matter of six weeks, and then saves users hundreds of dollars in its first year of use.  Apart from that, it provides a healthy profit margin and a new source of income to vendors who typically only make a few dollars a day.  The first batch of 10 stoves is given on consignment, but almost all have come back for more with a handful of cash – half to pay off the first batch, and half to purchase new stock.

Single-burner Zanmi Pye Bwa clean cookstoves are unloaded at a vendor location in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

To keep the venture as sustainable as possible, we focus on keeping retail prices high enough to cover materials costs of the stove, and fundraising to pay for the labor required to produce more.  This strategy leads us to work with only the most motivated vendors who are willing to learn, develop their sales skills, and stand behind a product that will cost their customers 5 times more than the less-efficient local alternative, but which will deliver previously unimaginable savings to families that depend on charcoal daily to feed their families.

Please join us in fueling this growing program, and creating a better future for the charcoal-dependent families of Haiti’s urban areas.

To learn more about Haiti Clean Cookstove Program and to make a donation please visit www.treeswaterpeople.org.