By Ajong Mbapndah L
Founded by Okey Esse, Powerstove Energy in Nigeria uses advance technology to deliver a superior smokeless, IoT enabled cookstove that generates electricity.
“What we are doing in Africa has never been done by an African. All the major clean cookstove companies in Africa, from Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, and Nigeria are not founded by Africans. So, when we started, we knew what the barriers and challenges were, and we were prepared to face that battle head-on,” says Okey Esse.
As of late March, Esse said the company had 111,201 paid orders, 99,822 shipped, and 102,060 users with 98% active monthly users.
“The Jua Fund will help us increase local production capacity to 12,000 units of stove and 100MT Wood Pellets monthly, plus expand to new markets in West and East Africa,” Esse said.
Could you start by telling us about Powerstove Energy and how it was conceived?
I started Powerstove out of personal childhood experience. As a child who grew up in a village without access to electricity till age 16, cooking with firewood was my worse moments (thick smoke, unbearable heat and uncontrollable fires). Unknown to me, the incessant coughs we experienced were a result of firewood smoke and that memory haunted me growing up.
So, while growing up, I was overwhelmed by how inefficient cooking and lack of electricity has been the twin problems hindering human and socio-economic development of 4-billion people globally. This discovery coupled with losing my mum, who worked as a village food vendor to ensure her seven children live and get an education and who died from myocardial ischemia, a heart disease she contracted from inhaling smoke from cooking with firewood, shaped my decision to study Physics at university.
While studying Physics Electronics, I focused on how to build a single affordable product that would solve all the problems associated with inefficient cooking and lighting with candles, kerosene, charcoal, and firewood.
Today, after long painstakingly efforts, I have successfully designed and developed Powerstove, a Tier 4 clean cookstove that is smokeless and super-efficient.
Can you explain how the technology works and how it could complement or fill the void created by chronic power problems in Nigeria?
Powerstove is based on Top Lit Updraft and thermoelectric technologies. Once the biomass inside the burn chamber is lit, the airflow system injects the right amount of oxygen into the burn chamber to ensure complete combustion of the fuel hence producing flames without smoke. Within three minutes, the temperature will reach 1000 degrees and initiate the conversion of thermal energy into electricity to charge phones and power LED bulbs and light 12 volt appliances.
What has been the response of the public to Powerstove?
Awesome, consumer confidence and trust keeps growing.
Powerstove Energy was founded in 2018, possible for you to shed some light on its progress, how many people do you serve now and how profitable has business been?
We have 111,201 paid orders, 99,822 shipped, 102,060 users with 98% active monthly users.
What are some of the big challenges that you have faced?
Electricity, double taxation, lack of incentives, and problems accessing skilled workforce
May we get your impressions on the selection of Powerstove Energy as one of the recent recipients of the Jua Fund?
We are extremely happy with our selection as well as being a recipient of Jua Fund. The announcement is timely, as we plan to scale our operations beyond Nigeria.
In concrete terms, may we know how the funding will help you in moving Powerstove Energy to the next level?
Jua Fund will help us increase local production capacity to 12,000 units of stove and 100MT Wood Pellets monthly, plus expand to new markets in West and East Africa.
How important do you think initiatives like the Jua Fund could help in supporting the work of dynamic young entrepreneurs like you?
Hardware is hard, that is why fewer entrepreneurs follow this path. Scaling manufacturing is one of the most difficult adventures to undertake in entrepreneurship and that is why initiatives like Jua Fund are very needed in Africa to help young entrepreneurs not lose interest, momentum and steam as they continue to build the next unicorn within the African startup ecosystem.
Going through your profile we see there are a number of other entrepreneurial initiatives that you are involved in, you want to share some with us?
What we are doing in Africa has never been done by an African. All the major clean cookstove companies in Africa, from Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho and Nigeria are not founded by Africans. So, when we started, we knew what the barriers and challenges were, and we were prepared to face that battle head-on. Today, looking back at hat we have achieved within a very short time has encouraged other entrepreneurial initiatives to welcome Powerstove Energy to help us scale our knowledge, network and market access faster.
How do you juggle your schedule to efficiently manage all these entities that you run?
I have a strong and committed team that works as a family to help each other achieve collective results.