Mashesha stoves - As a Business Opportunity

Business model
Our business model is three-fold, at two levels. The level of the business system, our social enterprise provides a sellable social-ecological, gender-sensitive product.

Applying for Corporate Social responsibility to donate stoves so that
  1. Demand is created for a business spin-off for agents to sell or rent out stoves across many communities. Both the selling and renting models automatically include skills development as training is needed for the value chain.
  2. Our business model for society (triple bottom line) is a product that builds social and as monetary capital which reduces burdens on women (and, if expanded to communities, the girl- child)
Viability evidence
Route to Market
Main competitors
Success Indicators
Addressable market in Africa
Activities based Budget (R1 200 000 investment)
Activity based budget(Less than R 600 000 investment)

Mashesha stoves - A Social & Energy efficient innovation for Rural communities

Communal and mass cooking for school feeding schemes and social events is a fundamental part of the socio-economic fabric of South Africa where social capital and cohesion are built around the iconic and fragrant ‘cooking pot’.   This is an enduring South African reality which sustains the livelihoods of 11% of South Africans that rely on wood fuel for cooking. Of the national 11%, 36% of the rural population rely on wood fuel for cooking.

Yet the idealised picture of the ‘cooking pot’ comes at the cost of many hours of unpaid labour for rural women who work with unsafe fires in confined,  polluted  kitchens (for which no statistics or minimum health standards exist) in order to feed 9 million primary school learners in South Africa (the selected sample for this case). An extrapolation of this  figure, for the purposes of this proposal (halving the 9 million and estimating 3 cooks per school), has 34 500 rural women whose health is compromised (and time is wastefully depleted to achieve nutrition for children’s survival and learning.) 

Added to this, the supply chain to bring the wood to schools has wider environmental implications. There is the obvious deforestation, global warming and climate change accelerated through carbon-burning fuels. There is the cost of transporting the wood to schools and the use of school budgets for fuel, which fruitfully can be diverted into direct educational resources.

In the face of this overlooked societal need for these ‘invisible’ women, the social enterprise, Sustainability Professionals (Pty) Ltd (SP) has created a unique, mobile 16kg (66 cm high x 50 cm wide) Mashesha stove. The stove burns with a clean, hot, efficient flame that saves roughly 56% of wood fuel. The Mashesha stove is made of  mild steel, painted with high heat black paint for durability. Mashesha is a SiSwati word and loosely translated means “Fast cooking”.

Crafted as a compact double-barrelled metal chambered drum with strategically placed air vents, significantly small amounts of wood are combusted and heat is prolonged, for the large 50-Litre cooking pot through catalytic secondary ignition of syngas. Supplement fuel can be made from waste cardboard and daily cooking by-products which burn equally well in the stove. The making of supplement fuel is a further novelty: its ease of creation allows for work opportunities inclusive of people with disabilities.

The entrepreneurial venture is built around a tested multiplier effect of donating stoves as well as intensive skills transfer. The skills grown are around the use of the stove, making of supplement fuel, health, gender and environmental issues etc.  The viability of this gender-sensitive, labour and energy-efficient stove for rural livelihoods has proved itself through strong marginal utility, personal testimonies, and baseline data.  SP’s business innovation of donating stoves into poor rural communities intends to create a market demand which stimulates the industrial production of the stove.

Employment of people at provincial or rural levels is increased through the production of the stove through two respective medium and microenterprises. More importantly, there is the commission model which allows rural communities to buy the stoves and set up their own micro businesses in a diversified business model. It is self -evident that this original invention and applied business model comprehensively meets all the criteria for social innovation.
Innovative aspect
Social innovation with relevance to Rural persons, woman and youth
Social needs to be addressed
The impact of the innovation on a social need
Applicability to Rural persons, woman and youth