Yusuf Tura life was transformed by a decision he made after returning home in Ethiopia from Seattle, USA, in 2007. When he got to his home town, he was shocked. All the trees had been killed off and stripped away by pollution from stoves that burn wood and dung. The dirty fuels fill the area with smoke and coat leaves, killing the trees.
In addition to deforestation, pollution from open cook stoves is responsible for killing more than 4 million people per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). When he returned to Seattle, Tura launched operations for Obama Stoves with no investor help. The company has now sold about 255,000 clean stoves in Ethiopia for $10 a pop, all while making a profit.
No one has ever been able to get a program like this off the ground without investor help, said Luni Libes, the founder of Seattle-based social entrepreneur startup accelerator Fledge.
Libes accepted Tura into the Fledge program despite his application only being half done based on his rare success story. Tura participated in Fledge’s 10-week mentoring and education program in 2014. Fledge also invested $17,000 in the company in 2014 and Libes himself donated enough to get the company a delivery truck in Ethiopia.
“There’s nothing like it,” Libes said. “The industry of (clean) cook stoves has been tried and tried and tried for years by nonprofits and government, and nobody’s ever done that.”
ObamaStove was founded in 2007 by Yusuf Tura, an Ethiopian refugee, who as a teenager was saved from the fighting and famine at home, fled to Kenya and then was brought to the United States. Rather than remitting cash back to his family, as is the norm, he decided to set up a cook-stove company, creating jobs and income for his whole community. Seven years later, the company has grown beyond everyone’s vision, manufactured and selling tens of thousands of stoves per year, over 200,000 in total. Based around a great product which customers love, this bootstrapped, grass-roots business is most certainly the largest cook-stove company in Ethiopia, and may just be the largest cook-stove company in all of Africa.
What sets the “Obama” stove apart from the hundreds of other stoves in Africa is how well it works for customers:
– The quality of the build. Lasts for years.
– The efficiency. Burns half as much charcoal per meal.
– The price. Retails for US$10, a payback in <45 days. Source 1 2