The Social Enterprise Way
Sustaintech is a social enterprise that applies commercial strategies to enable social, economic and environmental impact at the grass root. It is a spin off organization of TIDE an award winning non-profit social enterprise. The product profile of Sustaintech is a range of specially designed, fuel efficient biomass burning stoves for different cooking applications. The diversity of the product range ensures that all the cooking energy needs of tea stalls, street food vendors, commercial kitchens, home based cooking enterprises, small factories that make savouries and sweets are met. Further that the energy consumption and the cost of cooking is reduced by about 50%.
Our market research shows that a medium sized state in India has about 1.0 – 1.5 lakh potential users of our products. The potential impact of our products on small subsistence enterprises and the unorganized sector is therefore very large.
Sustaintech periodically carries out impact assessments like fuel saved and informal consumer satisfaction surveys among its customers. Sustaintech measures its impact through 3 key indicators:
Because the products are fuel efficient, they consume 30%
to 50% less firewood for the same cooking task and in less
time. Less firewood means fewer trees cut. Based on periodic user surveys and a field test on fuel saving carried out by Central Power Research Institute, Govt. of India, and other field data like hours and days of usage / year, Sustaintech has estimated its direct environmental impact from April 2011 to Dec 31 2016 to be about 80,000 tons of biomass conserved or 120,000 tons of CO2 emission abated.
We are also trying to influence our users to move to use of agri residues and other loose fuels and away from using wood logs as fuel. Innovative technologies like the PYRO loose biomass stove, PYRO Agni Sakhi and PYRO Agni Mithra allows clean burning of agro residues like coconut fronds, loose biofuel like cashew shell, saw mill waste and also occasionally charcoal as well. As our stoves are also heavy duty, rugged and long lasting, they are extremely user friendly and extensively used thus triggering more positive environmental impacts.
Data on health impacts is largely available for households where the biomass stove is used at low burning rates for about 2-2.5 hrs / day and that too at low power levels. The ill effects for household air pollution were high incidence of pneumonia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and lung cancer. Cooks using commercial cookstoves are exposed to toxic emissions for at least 5-6 hrs / day and that too at very high (about 5 times more) burning rates. The cook and helpers working in a commercial kitchen are exposed to at least 10 times higher emissions household air pollution. Data shows that wood smoke exposure by use of chimney significantly improved health impacts. Our field data shows that the productive life of a cook is limited to 35 years because of exposure to IAP. Although the number of people affected by IAP is large in households, the health impacts and risk to livelihoods is far higher for cooks in commercial kitchens.
The PYRO range of wood burning stoves release very less smoke and the same is expelled outside the kitchen through use of a chimney. They thus contribute to a safer, healthier work environment and reduce incidence of respiratory ailments.
For us at Sustaintech, it is important that use of our products creates not only good health but also sustained savings leading to well-being for our customers. This is especially important for the small eateries, tea stalls, women’s enterprises etc. Our stoves are a livelihood product that help our customers grow their businesses and reduce their fuel costs.
With rising price of firewood currently at Rs 4000 / ton each stove pays for itself in about 8 months of usage through fuel saving. Subsequently each stove would generate an additional income through fuel saving of about 14,000 to Rs. 20,000 per year to the customer. Although the price of fuel and raw materials is increasing every year, as our commitment to our stove users, we have not increased the selling price of our stove for 3 years now.
The value of biomass conserved @ USD 50 / ton (as of Dec 31, 2016,) is USD 4 million. This money is in the hands of small entrepreneurs and they use it for improving their quality of life and for health, nutrition and education of the family.