Provision of accessible and clean energy solutions for Kenyans still remains one of the most challenging and time consuming processes. Getting end users to change their behavior towards adopting cleaner energy sources and cook stoves may require a lot more patience and hard work.
Kenyans have over the years been reliant on biomass energy for their cooking and heating needs. Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) estimates that about 87% of the rural population uses firewood for cooking and 82% of the urban population uses charcoal for cooking. This essentially means that most people use the Kenya Ceramic Jiko cook stove which either uses charcoal, firewood or briquettes.
In Bahati Constituency, Nakuru County, Sustainable Community Development Services (SCODE) is trying to make a difference in sustainably providing innovative, diversified, high quality market-driven renewable energy solutions and sustainable land use management approaches. Established in 2011 with the aim of delivering renewable energy technology to customers, the company deals in three product lines namely cook stoves, solar lamps and biogas.
The company assembles home solar systems and over the years, 200 units have been deployed in Kenya. The company also makes a variety of cook stoves. SCODE fabricates the metal casing from their warehouse in Nakuru and sources the ceramic components from Muranga. The cook stoves are supplied in Nakuru, Nyeri, Laikipia and Muranga.
Currently the company is engaged with tea factories where they have signed MOUs with cooperatives to push the cook stoves.
For the biogas installations, the company has not ventured much due to challenges in working capital. Recently, the company is seeking a grant to explore the feasibility of solid organic waste to generate biogas. with the approval from the county government and the Ministry of Energy, the gas produced will be used to generate electricity and the bio slurry as organic fertilizer for farming.
Working in six counties in Kenya, in a month, the company distributes over 600 cook stoves and 10 solar home systems. Their target market includes schools, farmers, women groups and individual walk ins. Using distribution channels such as retailers, commission and awareness agents, the company has been able to attract 350 pay as you go customers.
Like any other business, it has not been without challenges. Access to finance for consumer financing has been a challenge.
“We give credit facilities of 30 days to cook stoves customers. A down payment of 10% to 15% is made prior to accessing a solar home system and the balance is paid between 12-24 months,” notes John Maina who is the Director and Co-founder.
He added that the warehouse also doubles up as a service center providing after sale services through product technicians.
As one of the clients at the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), SCODE is currently undergoing through the Green Tech Accelerator Program that aims towards setting the entrepreneurs on a rapid growth path.
In the last five years, the company has been able to distribute over 50,000 cook stoves. The company is looking to grow and expand to other counties.
By Mercy Mumo