Tuesday, April 29, 2014

An Opportunity for Local Support from Local Angels

Adam Creighton Reporting

The response that InStove has received from our Huffington Post debut is nothing short of extraordinary, and yet, we've been granted another amazing opportunity.

InStove Manufacturing Ltd. was recently selected as a finalist in the Southern Oregon Angel Conference held in Jacksonville on April 30th. At this event, one Oregon-based start-up will be selected as the winner, and be eligible to receive a large first-round investment from the Southern Oregon Angel Investor Network.

InStove Manufacturing Ltd. will be up against four other companies including: Fire Cirkl, Home School Technical Apparel, Nouvola, and Rogue Rovers.

InStove Manufacturing Ltd. attracts working capital
 and manages the production of our technologies, 
like the Institutional Cookstoves!
InStove Manufacturing Ltd. is a for-profit organization founded by Institutional Stove Solutions (InStove) to manage the production of our technologies. The idea follows the non-profit sector best practice of licensing technologies to be produced by associated for-profit entities. This allows the for-profit organization to attract working capital and scale up to meet demand in ways not available to the nonprofit.

InStove Manufacturing Ltd.'s selection as a finalist follows our win at the Portland Social Venture Society's "Fast Pitch" competition in February, where we took first place.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

InStove Leaps Forward in Building Relations with Zambia

Alison Jelden Reporting

Recently, InStove hosted Palan Mulonda, Zambian Ambassador to the United States, during his visit to Cottage Grove. InStove was honored to have His Excellency tour our facility and learn about the factory-in-a-box model that we are taking steps to implement in Zambia this year. 

Brian Mulenga, Fred Colgan, His Excellency, and Kirk Shauer talk shop.
“We need start-up funding to make this a reality,” said Fred Colgan, Executive Director of InStove. “Partnerships and funding are critical in creating a sustainable business. We have the product, we have the team and the motivation—now we just need the funding.”

Ambassador Mulonda has worked for the Zambian Ministry of Justice and served as the executive director of the Institute of Human Rights Intellectual Property and Development Trust (HURID) in Zambia. He has been involved in the promotion of human rights for many years. So, when he learned of the great opportunity presented by InStove from a letter we sent him in early February, he wanted to make sure it didn’t slip away. He scheduled his trip immediately.

“This stove is not an alternative,” said His Excellency after seeing a demonstration, “it’s the solution.”

His Excellency was accompanied on his visit by Brian Mulenga, Political and Cultural Advisor to the Zambian Embassy. From their arrival, it was a non-stop schedule. Accompanied by InStove, the diplomatic team was received by Michael Gottfredson, President of the University of Oregon; Dr. Dennis Galvan, Vice Provost of the UO Office of International Affairs; Eric Benjaminson, executive director of the Gabon Oregon Transnational Research Center on Environment and Development; and the mayors of both Eugene and Cottage Grove. 

Senators Merkeley and Wyden also sent field representatives to meet with and welcome the ambassador and his advisor. 

Representatives of SOHIP--Seeds of Hope International Partnership, including Executive Director, Kirk Shauer, were also present for the visit. SOHIP and InStove are working in partnership to bring stove production to rural Zambia. Both organizations took part in final discussions at InStove headquarters on Thursday. 

InStove is thankful and appreciative of The Ambassador, SOHIP, Senators Merkeley and Wyden, and all who helped to make this visit a success.

InStove also wishes to specifically thank Backstage Bakery (Cottage Grove), and Mazzi’s and The Electric Station (Eugene) for demonstrating their generosity to His Excellency and guests during the visit.

 1) Kitty Piercy is presented with a gift from InStove at Mazzi's. 2) InStove staff and The Ambassador enjoy lunch at The Electric Station. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thinking About My Future

Lauren Wellbaum reporting

Lauren is a Social Media Intern with InStove.
Wrapping up my senior year of college, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my future. I have an abundance of decisions to make! What will I do when I graduate? Where do I want to work now that I have graduated? Where do I wish to live? What I do not think about enough are the privileges I am experiencing at this very moment.

There are many people in many areas of the world that would treasure opportunities that I don't think about. For instance, a job seeker in Nigeria faces an unemployment rate of almost 30%. Some of these unemployed Nigerians have successfully completed higher education, even when it has cost them and their family much hardship. 

Two of the mechanical engineer graduates in
 Nigeria who are now employed at the InStove factory. 
InStove is here to help. InStove produces innovative technologies in Nigeria to empower local workers and bring hope to the future of our world. This creates a more stable and sustainable environment which we hope will improve Nigeria's unemployment rate. It's your turn to make a difference. Join InStove on its mission to relieve suffering to vulnerable populations worldwide. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

ETHOS Conference Reports on "Stove Stacking" and Adoption Rates

Alison Jelden Reporting

From January 24-26, InStove sent a team of engineers and dedicated staff to the 15th annual Engineers in Technical and Humanitarian Opportunities of Service (ETHOS) conference in Kirkland, Washington. Each year, stove enthusiasts from various sectors gather at the ETHOS conference to share research, development, and best practices from the lab and field.

“The main goal is to make connections within the stove community and to see what’s going on with stove protocols,” said Stella Strother-Blood, InStove Project Coordinator.

Stella Strother-Blood explains innovative technology to a fellow stove enthusiast

One of the main issues addressed this year at ETHOS was soliciting follow-up questions from communities where new models of clean cook stoves have been introduced.

Changing a stove requires changing behaviors. As InStove and other stove organizations have learned, just because an efficient stove will benefit a community this condition alone is not sufficient for successful adoption of the technology. People must adopt the stove and the behavioral changes that go with it. 

Stove organizations also shared a phenomenon they encountered in the field in which users will stack the new stove on top of the old stove. This practice, called “stove stacking” is problematic: if a cook persists in using the old stove and the new one simultaneously, then they are not receiving the health benefits.

InStove’s goal for 2014 is to expand our factory system and build factories in Senegal and Zambia. Building on past strengths and the best practices in the industry, we increase adoption rates by building relationships with cooks before adoption and asking frequent follow-up questions afterward. Such questions include “How do you like the stoves?” and “What can we do to improve the stoves?” These questions have led to developments including the creation of our 100 Liter Stove, and the addition of handles to our 100 Liter Institutional Cookstoves.

Collecting and adopting user feedback is critical for designing a stove that people will use.

“The overall message is to follow up with InStove consumers and visit them once a year to talk about experience and update stoves,” said Fred Colgan, founder of InStove. “The [local] factory system will give us those kinds of answers.”

Fred Colgan speaking at ETHOS about factory systems

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Four New Additions to our Cottage Grove Headquarters!

Assa (sixth from right) and the rest of the InStove staff.
The New Year brings many new faces to InStove. Talented interns and a fulltime staff member have joined us this January! We are happy to welcome Assa Sylla Traore as our Africa Project Coordinator. Assa hails from Mali in West Africa and recently completed her second Master’s degree in International Studies at the University of Oregon.

“It means a lot to me to know that in Cottage Grove, miles from Africa, someone is making stoves to relieve women suffering and promote their health,” she said.

Assa will be focusing on developing new and old partnerships throughout Africa’s diverse countries.

We are also joined by three social media interns: Allison, Lauren, and Samantha.

Alison and Buster the tortoise. 
Alison is pursuing a degree in Public Relations and is passionate about animal conservation. Her ideal weekend would include visiting an aquarium, but her life goal is to prevent further animal extinction.

Lauren in Italy.
“[At InStove] I hope to gain skills on how to strategically communicate stories and news to the community that will give back to others around the world,” said Alison.

Our second intern, Lauren, is studying Journalism with an emphasis in Communication Studies. “I hope to combine my passion for writing and travel and pursue a goal that is interesting, challenging, and enjoyable,” said Lauren. “I like that InStove is working to create a healthy environment for people living in the developing world.”

Samantha ready to cheer on her university.
Our third intern, Samantha, is pursuing a degree in English with a minor in folklore. “I think that social media is the future of our world and a great way of communicating with others,” she said. Samantha first heard about InStove at the UO Career Fair, and promptly started following our Twitter account. “I really want to help make a difference and spread InStove’s mission through social media outlets.”

We are excited to welcome such a passionate group of interns to our team! 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Celebrating in Senegal

Stella Strother-Blood Reporting

Cooks enjoy the festive spirit while preparing food.
For the past two weeks, we have enjoyed delicious meals prepared on our 100 Liter Stoves in Touba, Senegal: peppers, onions, spices; yams, goat, tomatoes; rice and cous cous. 

Delicious food prepared by talented cooks who, thanks to the new technology, were able to cook without smoke in their eyes, flames at their feet, or pain in their backs.

Fred Colgan, Executive Director, and I, Stella Strother-Blood, Executive Assistant and Intern Coordinator, traveled to the country of Senegal in Western Africa on December 12th.  Of the one hundred, 100 Liter Stoves that we sent to GIZ and PERACOD (our in-country partners) we set out with seven for the Magal, a celebration in the city of Touba. This is the holy city of Mourdism, a branch of Sufi Islam. 

A 100 Liter Stove inspires curiosity in a group of local students. 
According to one of the cooks we worked with, Bababcar Pomane, Magal is a celebration when, “people come eat and learn Koran. They sing songs and say prayers.” During the Magal, and in the days leading up to it, we tested our stoves in kitchens belonging to religious leaders in the area. 

These leaders are responsible for feeding the million to 2.5 million guests who descend on the city each year for the Magal: crowds of people, piles of firewood, and a mass of cookstoves. Our successful tests yielded fuel savings of, on average, 80.1%! Cooks were in awe of the speed of the InStoves. 

Stella, Fred, and Pomane enjoy the Magal!
Pomane said, “The most important thing is that InStoves are great. You save wood, save money. You can cook without being dirty. You work without bending down – without a pain in your back.” 

Religious leaders and cooks alike saw the potential for our stoves to serve all of the large communal kitchens in the area – especially during celebrations when these limited facilities are overwhelmed by demand.

After this successful project, InStove is in negotiations with multiple agencies to create a public/private partnership in order to bring an InStove manufacturing to Senegal in 2014!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Haitian Senator Warmly Welcomes InStove!

Sen. De La Cruz speaks to schoolchildren in his home district.
Dennis Hartley Reporting 

I returned from Haiti on December 8th, after spending a week as a guest of our friend Senator Francisco De La Cruz, who represents the Central Plateau region. Dr. De La Cruz visited InStove last September to see for himself our advanced technologies and explore ways to bring more of them to Haiti. He is especially interested in our new water pasteurizer, recently tested in Zambia.
In Haiti, we foresee the possibility of serving those who are sick from drinking contaminated water from rivers, streams and even unsafe well-water. One stove with a pasteurizer system can produce about 4,000 liters of safe drinking water a day: sufficient to meet the needs of over a thousand people, fueled by small amounts of biomass.  We envision this as a small, sustainable, business opportunity for many Haitians, especially women.
National press record the senator's vision of autoclaves in the Hinche Hospital.
A highlight of the trip was presenting the stove at the Haitian senate to the national press, and conducting a demonstration. We also presented the autoclave system at the regional hospital in Hinche, the largest and most important health center in the senator’s district
The next steps include a feasibility study for the water pilot project, and forming the coalition necessary to run and monitor the project, all moving toward our ultimate goal of opening a factory.

I am excited to play a part in creating a healthy, sustainable future for Haitians with InStove. It’s really about the children, isn’t it?