Louise Williamson South Africa – Startup Sustainability Professionals


Safe and efficient cookstoves for schools

Louise Williamson’s Mashesha cook stove directly improves the lives of thousands of women and children in rural schools and drastically reduces lung disease among women cooks. The Mashesha (“fast cooking”) stove is the signature product of Sustainability Professionals. The company, founded by the South African entrepreneur hopes to reach all 11,500 rural schools in South Africa, and an additional 9 million households still cooking on traditional stoves.

The Presidential Jury marvelled that Louise, “Demonstrated a passion for helping schools prepare hot meals and help women who prepare these meals. Many women face health challenges because of year-long exposure to open fire. This entrepreneur invented an affordable, safe and environmentally friendly solution which consumes half of the fuel.” Louise is passionate about community health and sustainability and “aims to improve the quality of life for impoverished communities” with affordable cookstoves and reliable fuel. She developed the Mashesha to “solve cooking needs for rural schools and communities.”


In South Africa, schools are tasked with the challenge of feeding every student. Provided with food, schools are not provided with stoves or fuel. Schools and their female cooks bear the burden of cooking on inefficient and unhealthy stoves. The mashesha reduces wood consumption by over 50%. And, the smokeless stoves prevent women and students from breathing in toxic smoke.

With ZAR1,225,360.00 to boost production, Louise hopes to scale throughout the region. She says “70% of Sub-Saharan Africa relies on wood fuel to meet their daily energy requirements.” And, most of these are cooking on inefficient stoves, causing hours of wasted time and even premature death. With mashesha, this bleak reality will soon change.