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Recipe for safe cooking wins hearts and prize

Monday, 19 November 2012 - 10:18am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: dna

Two entrepreneurs win global competition for their invention — a cooking stove for rural women.

One enduring image of rural India, apart from man with a plough, is a woman blowing into a metal pipe to light the chulha (traditional mud stove). But not many know that the smoke not only leaves the woman teary-eyed but also is a serious health hazard. It is this concern that prompted two talented entrepreneurs to devise a solution to this problem, a solution which has earned them global recognition.

Neha Juneja and Ankit Mathur, co-founders of Greenway Grameen Infra, have emerged victorious at the Intel Global Challenge (IGC) at Berkeley, held between November 5 and 8, for their ‘Greenway Smart Stove’, a ‘single burner, high-efficiency cookstove designed for everyday use’. This is the first time in eight years that a team from India has won this award.

Neha, a graduate from Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi, and Ankit an IIM-A graduate, competed with 25 teams from 16 countries. The finalist teams were selected from more than 1,50,000 students from more than 50 countries.

According to the team, the stove uses 65% less fuel and produces 80% less smoke than the traditional mud stoves (chulhas). The product, the team said, was developed by incorporating ideas and views of women living in rural areas.

The Nadathur S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) at IIM-B had mentored Greenway Grameen Infra (GGI), which had won the first prize at the Next Big Idea 2012 and gained nomination for the Intel Global Challenge (IGC) where they won the grand prize and the audience choice award.

While the design was conceptualised in 2010, the marketing of the product began in December 2011. They have sold 15,000 stoves till date.

The product is marketed by way of demonstration in villages. “While the rural folk appreciate its functionality, they are hesitant when it comes to buying it,” said Neha. The product, which is priced at `1,250 per stove, is where the women folk are finding it difficult.

According to Ankit, they are working with financial institutions to help women in purchasing the product.

While the duo plans to use the prize money of $50,000 in developing the supply chain and product development, they have already started work on their next big invention: a ‘waste heat-to-electricity converter’, which is a stove that would generate electricity.

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