EcoZoom Receives $100K Grant to Train African Distributors

July 26, 2013 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

It’s not every day that you hear the founders of a high-growth business have moved to Nairobi, Kenya to be closer to their customers and potential funders. But PSU Social Innovation Incubator members Ben West, Phil Ferranto, and Amanda West aren’t your typical entrepreneurs—they launched EcoZoom two years ago as a social enterprise dedicated to designing, manufacturing, and distributing low-cost, high-efficiency cookstoves in the developing world. Commonly known as “rocket stoves,” their products reduce emissions, deforestation, and health risks for families used to cooking over an open fire. Want to buy one for yourself? You can—but the real market opportunity is in East Africa.

In two years, EcoZoom has already managed to sell more than 83,000 stoves in 14 countries, generating over $2 million in revenue. With the goal of accelerating sales growth even more, the founding team moved from Portland, Oregon to Nairobi in June. The company maintains a team in Portland, but the focus on East Africa has already paid off: EcoZoom recently received a $100,000 grant from Greater Impact Foundation to train a network of Kenyan sales agents. These freelance  agents—entrepreneurs themselves—will help EcoZoom connect to a wider range of customers.

Erica, an EcoZoom customer in Nairobi.

Erica, an EcoZoom customer in Nairobi.

The customers certainly see the benefits. EcoZoom sells wood, charcoal, and combination stoves, all with much greater fuel efficiency than traditional cooking methods.

This stove is smart. I save more than 280 shillings [$3.25] a week in charcoal expenses, and it cooks fast. — Erica, an EcoZoom customer in Nairobi.

With the Greater Impact Foundation’s grant, EcoZoom will be able to reach more customers like Erica, support the economic wellbeing of entrepreneurial sales agents, and expand the social and environmental benefits the company was created to provide.

Edit: a previous version of this post incorrectly listed the number of EcoZoom stoves sold to date. 

Entry filed under: SII Member News, Social Entrepreneurship.

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