Burning wood and other biomass can be dirty and dangerous for people and their planet. It can also be expensive. Yet for many small businesses like silk-reeling and food processing in India, biomass is the only way to produce heat. What can be done?
The solution that the NGO Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE) came up with is a clever combination of technology and sound business sense. Technology has developed a safer stove burning less fuel and generating less pollution. Business sense has not only demonstrated the cost-benefit of the stoves, but trained a network of entrepreneurs who both sell and develop them to suit different industries.
The results are impressive. Nearly 20,000 stoves installed in small businesses, 121,000 people benefiting and estimates of 116,000 tonnes of CO2 saved each year. And the business owners are repaying the cost of the stoves in one year or less while their employees are working in a safer and cooler environment.
But as importantly TIDE is creating a legacy of innovation, both technical and economic. As their stoves are developed for different and larger businesses, so their network of entrepreneurs is expanding across the country. TIDE has set up Sustaintech, a for-profit company to sell stoves and water heaters to businesses. Here is a model from Southern India that can be applied across the developing world.