A Green Chulha for Rural India
Sonal Khetarpal September 20, 2017
Indoor air pollution, caused by smoke from traditional chulhas, is the biggest health risk faced by rural households in India. Every year it kills over 4.3 million people globally, which is higher than malaria, HIV and tuberculosis combined. "Rural India must convert to cooking gas, but until that happens, there has to be a healthier alternative," says Neha Juneja who has co-founded Greenway Grameen Infra along with Ankit Mathur to design and market efficient cooking solutions for rural households.
Their flagship product is Greenway Smart Stove, built using their patented air-regulated technology, which emits 70 per cent less smoke and uses 65 per cent less biomass as fuel, claims Juneja. Therefore, it has a clear impact on deforestation. According to her, using a clean stove also reduces greenhouse emissions by 2-2.5 tonnes every year. There is a demand for such products, says Juneja, but the sales strategy has to be different for every state.
In the north where men hold the purse strings, there is a need to sensitise them about clean cooking fuel. In the north east, it is easier to sell as housework is shared by men and women, says Juneja. There are 130 feet on the street who tell people all about the product and conduct workshops so that they know how the stove differs from the traditional mud or brick stove.
Since its launch in 2011, Greenway has sold the product to six lakh rural households. Currently, there are two stove categories, priced at Rs 1,800 and Rs 3,000. As the target consumers are the rural poor, Greenway has tied up with microfinance companies to facilitate loans. It had also piloted direct consumer credit last year to enhance sales. To expand their green business further, the cofounders set up their factory in Vadodara in 2014 and say it is the largest stove manufacturing unit in India. They are also planning to launch it in Afghanistan and Nepal this year.