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