Tsegaye Nega’s innovative cookstoves and biomass fuel pellets are a healthier cooking alternative.

Tsegaye Nega takes his contribution to his country’s health very seriously. In a tour of his cookstove factory, he points out the ways he has designed, prototyped, tested and improved upon his original ideas for his highly efficient fan-forced gasifier stoves to aid those who are most in need.

An estimated 90 percent of people in Ethiopia cook with open fires or simple stoves that burn fuel harvested from trees. The smoke, carbon emissions and tree cutting from these cooking practices have devastating effects on people’s health and on the environment.

Scooping up a handful of fuel pellets Tsegaye explains how they are made from biodegradable waste like spent coffee grounds, coffee husks, sawdust, wood chips and khat stems. He has spent a significant amount of time perfecting the recipes to create fuel pellets and investigating how to repurpose the charcoal created from burning them.

Tsegaye established Anega Energies Manufacturing (AEM), a social enterprise that provides households and small businesses in urban areas of Ethiopia with access to the cookstoves. The company has a program of selling the stoves and pellets, then “buying back” the charcoal the stoves generate by giving the customer new pellet fuel in exchange. The charcoal is converted into fertilizer as well as water and air filters to sequester carbon.

Tsegaye’s business model, “stove + pellets + charcoal buyback,” is a three-prong approach showing that more efficient cookstoves have the potential to be an economically viable alternative which is good for the environment and human health.