Biogas Injera stove – saving family expense so children can go to school in Ethiopia

What started out as a prototype developed during the final years of university studies is today an innovative product with the potential to positively impact the lives of many women in rural Ethiopia. With funding from the Innovations Against Poverty challenge fund, Getu Alemayehu and his team at GM Clean Energy is ready to take their innovation to scale. “The funding can take us to the next step”, says Getu, founder and general manager.

Getu was working as a consultant conducting fuel surveys in rural Ethiopia when he got to see first-hand the negative effects of using firewood as fuel for baking Injera – highly deforestation and household air pollution with consequent health effects, disproportionately affecting women. Women and girls often walk several kilometres to collect firewood for their stoves and Mitad (Traditional baking pan made up of clay soil for baking Injera). While cooking, they are exposed to smoke and residue from their stoves that pose serious dangers to their health. With a determination to make a change, Getu set out to develop a green and clean solution – a biogas fired Injera cooking stove. 

The idea of biogas is not new in Ethiopia – the government has focused on developing the biogas sector in order to reduce carbon emissions and provide access to clean an efficient cooking and lighting solutions. Today many families, even in rural areas, use biogas as fuel for cooking and lighting. The technology has not, however, been successfully applied to baking Injera, Ethiopia’s staple food. Biomass products like wood and charcoal are still widely used when baking Injera, the most energy-intensive household activity accounting for over 50 per cent of household energy consumption.

Using biogas instead of biomass products will have a positive impact on the environment, preventing deforestation and air pollution. Using biogas will also have a positive impact for many people in rural Ethiopia, especially women. In addition to saving time and creating a cleaner cooking environment for women, using biogas will decrease spending on fuel for many families.

For many families, saving some money each month can mean a lot. For some, it means that they can send their children to school” – Getu.

Getu started developing the first prototype of the Injera baking biogas stove and fuel saving Mitad as he was studying his Master thesis in Sustainable Energy Engineering in 2012. With a prototype ready for scale up and then to enter the market, he founded GM Clean Energy in 2014. Today the company is a growing start-up with a clear goal to make a lasting impact for the environment and for people in rural Ethiopia. Under the Innovations Against Poverty fund jointly implemented by Sida and SNV in partnership with BoP Innovation Center and Inclusive Business Sweden, Getu and his team can increase their production and expand to more areas. Their goal is to disseminate 1,600 cooking stoves to rural areas in the next two years.

We want to reach people in rural areas with our door-to-door service. They live far from our production site and to be able to reach them it’s important for us to invest not only in increased production but also in more employees and transport facilitation. In doing so, GM Clean Energy Plc can ensure that the solutions is available for more LIP, enabling healthier and more convenient lives whilst reducing cost for injera baking, reduce time of fire wood collection, reduce emission of GHGs, reduce IAP (Indoor Air Pollution) and reduce deforestation. Our door to door service is not only to deliver our product to our customer but also it helps to give proper installation and end user training as the they use properly” – Getu