Involving a community in a product development makes it more easily acceptable, as the people involved feel they were involved in the creation process. This is what Teddy Kinyanjui, the sustainability manager at Cookswell Jikos, a company that was started by his late father in the 1980’s believes in.
Sustainable Development Goal 7 seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, which is what the Cookswell Jikos Company is focused on doing for the local community which is an integral part of their development process in making the Jikos.
“We were traveling in many communities around Kenya and realized that so many people spend time in the kitchen cooking at any given time. Most of them rely on firewood which not only emits harmful smoke but is a burden to the environment since there are so many trees being cut down without being replaced back. Most of the trees take very many years to grow back making the consumption verses the reproduction too high” Teddy spoke at an interview
He also noted that there are many people who would like to do baking at home and even for commercial purposes but the conventional ovens are too expensive. That is why their Jikos are not only used for cooking but also for baking that allows local communities to have a source of income without incurring the cost of high electricity bills. Cookswell Jikos can be used for basic cooking, frying and even baking as they come in various sizes and designs.
“Our Jikos are more efficient as they reduce heat by 50% as compared to the mabati “iron sheets” ones that are sold in the market. This is because they use less charcoal as they have been made in a way that uses small pieces of charcoal from acacia trees that wildly grow in regions like Kitui, Narok and even Londiani” Teddy stated.
Energy saving Cookswell Jiko with double oven (Cookswell.co.ke)
Teddy is aware of the deforestation issue that has been going on in the country so they sought to deal with the problem as they launched their Cookswell Jikos. The company wanted to keep the charcoal trade sustainable without over exerting the environment. As a solution to this they partnered with a company to deliver tree seedlings that can be planted by anyone and in any place without the worry of watering or caring for the growing trees. As the community is involved in the whole process, there is a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the environment.
As the demand for cleaner energy that is easy to use and affordable grows by the day, it is crucial that their Cookswell Jikos are able to reach the people living in the interior parts of the country. Teddy says that they have made the manufacture of their jikos to be decentralized to minimize the cost of production and transportation therefore yielding higher results in terms of their usage.
“Our products are made in Kenya by highly trained artisans. We focus on products that are sustainable and support eco-friendly practices”
Small pieces of charcoal that use less energy and easily available (Cookswell.co.ke)
Cookswell Jikos not only advocates for utilization of wood fuel as a source of renewable energy but also the production and management of such resources crucial to Africa’s cooking needs for cleaner, safer and easily affordable energy sources. To maintain their reforestation agenda, the company also includes a free packet of tree seedlings in every purchase of their Cookswell Jikos, to be planted back in the land in order to keep making charcoal a sustainable source of energy without stripping the land of its natural resources.
With products like space heaters, wood fueled stoves, smokers, charcoal making kilns and portable convection ovens, Cookswell Jikos seeks to enable every Kenyan home to be able to access clean energy that is not only for home use but also for profit making. To further their agenda of maintaining a clean environment Teddy says that the company uses recycled paper to minimize wastage and encourages recycling of plastic to help in combating climate change.