16 Dec GCS makes strides in Tanzania selling the jikokoa- clean burning cook stove
By Nimo Nyambura
Driven by passion, integrity and family, Tanzanian based Global Cycle Solutions, a BURN partner, continues to make strides in availing affordable and quality technologies, such as the jikokoa, to families in Tanzania.
Since partnering with BURN in 2014, GCS has sold over 7,000 jikokoas, a feat they thought impossible at the time, says Chief Operations Officer, Kota Kojima.
“We were unsure of the demand the jikokoa would have in Tanzania but now we have seen families using the jiko enjoy a healthier home environment, an increase in savings from reduced charcoal costs, which they channel into their businesses or invest in their children’s education,” said Kojima.
Interview with the Chief Operations Officer, Kota Kojima
Why set up shop in Tanzania and not another East African Country?
The fact that it’s at the centre of the East African community geographically, and enjoys great political stability made it a favourable environment to start GCS. But there are also great disparities, less than 5% of the rural population have access to energy with 9 out of 10 Tanzanians relying on biomass (firewood and charcoal) as their primary fuel for cooking, and our mission to provide access to transformative technologies, like BURN cook stoves, for these rural communities.
Indeed, there’s a significant demand for cleaner technologies in Tanzania, how then do you make such technologies affordable to the common person?
One of the ways we make jikokoas more affordable is to accept payments in instalments. PAYG (Pay-As-You-Go) product offerings brought huge success in the solar industry. We try to incorporate the flexibility of PAYG products with the infrastructure already in place to identify reliable customers. Saving groups are present in every village. By having interested customers sign up as groups, it lowers the risk of delinquent payments while more people benefit from using jikokoa.
Cooking is a woman’s affair in most home settings, and according to a 2012 WHO report, women and girls are the most affected by indoor air pollution- a cause of 4.3M annual deaths in the world. How then does GCS work with women to act as change agents in their communities?
Our sales agents are called Rafiki, meaning “friend” in Swahili. Many of the best performing Rafiki are women. They see the benefits economically and environmentally first hand then share them with friends, family, and neighbours. Our most successful female Rafiki has sold over 500 stoves since December 2015!
Venturing into a new market requires a lot of support, how has BURN made it easy for you to achieve your goals in Tanzania?
We are very appreciative of BURN; they are always responsive and willing to help out. From supporting marketing materials, training certified jikokoa repair shops, to delivering products on short notice, BURN pays as much attention to partner relations as the design on their stoves. It’s also exciting to partner with BURN who constantly improves its product year after year, offering the highest quality clean cook stoves on the market.
Thanks, for the good sentiments, GCS has been a great partner to work with! Going forward, what do you foresee as the future of GCS in Tanzania?
We hope to continue bringing transformative technologies for the last mile. We’re constantly striving to identify products that are going to benefit our core customer, rural villagers. Going forward, we envision introducing agricultural tools that increase farmer yields, cleaner water that improve the health of families, and other cost saving, environmentally sustainable products.