Baker Cook­stoves: De­sign­ing for the African Cus­tomer

De­sign­ing for the African Cus­tomer

Southern Innovator - - CONTENTS -

An in­no­va­tive so­cial en­ter­prise is us­ing de­sign to cre­ate an energy-ef­fi­cient cook­stove for Kenya. The Baker cook­stove has been de­signed in or­der to be a high-qual­ity and de­sir­able prod­uct that also ac­com­plishes the goal of sav­ing money for the user. This unique prod­uct is be­ing de­vel­oped at the com­pany’s fac­tory in Nairobi, Kenya.

Baker’s owner is Top Third Ven­tures Global, a so­cial im­pact com­pany reg­is­tered in Kenya. It was founded by Lu­cas Be­lenky and Björn Ham­mar in 2011.

While cook­ing is a daily ne­ces­sity for bil­lions of peo­ple, it is also costly and pol­lut­ing. By switch­ing to energy-ef­fi­cient cook­stoves, fam­i­lies will be able to re­duce the cost of cook­ing daily meals and, if the stove is de­signed right, re­duce the amount of pol­lu­tion gen­er­ated while cook­ing. One of the great ob­sta­cles hold­ing back the take-up of energy-ef­fi­cient cook­stoves has been the ab­sence of sus­tain­able busi­ness mod­els to sell and dis­trib­ute energy-ef­fi­cient cook­stoves.

The Baker cook­stove, by be­ing de­signed as an as­pi­ra­tional prod­uct and backed up with a seven-year guar­an­tee, hopes to change this dy­namic. And if things go to plan, then Baker hopes to sig­nif­i­cantly scale up its pro­duc­tion based on cus­tomers want­ing to have a Baker cook­stove tak­ing pride of place in their home. The Baker cook­stove is the prod­uct of a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to use de­sign and a well- thought- out pro­duc­tion life cy­cle to en­sure that the cook­stove is eye-catch­ing, ef­fec­tive, and man­u­fac­tured con­sis­tently and to a high stan­dard. En­gi­neer­ing and de­sign teams also con­stantly mon­i­tor the prod­uct and make ad­just­ments to the cook­stove as they re­ceive feed­back from cus­tomers. The Baker cook­stove is ben­e­fit­ing from new fi­nanc­ing be­ing made avail­able through car­bon cred­its and Baker’s founders be­lieve that this will add sus­tain­abil­ity to the energy-ef­fi­cient cook­stove mar­ket and bring big changes over the next 10 years.

In­ter­view

SI: What role does de­sign play in the Baker cook­stove so­cial en­ter­prise? At what stage did Top Third Ven­tures start to think through the pro­duc­tion life cy­cle for the Baker cook­stove? What did you feel was miss­ing in the other cook­stove mod­els cur­rently avail­able on the mar­ket? Baker’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO), Lu­cas Be­lenky, ex­plained to South­ern In­no­va­tor the think­ing be­hind the Baker cook­stove.

The Baker cook­stove is the corner­stone of the so­cial en­ter­prise. Top Third Ven­tures is at its core a prod­uct com­pany. There are dif­fer­ent as­pects to the busi­ness model to make it work (i.e., car­bon cred­its and big data) but ev­ery­thing de­pends on the suc­cess of the Baker prod­uct. We started think­ing through the pro­duc­tion life cy­cle from the day the com­pany was founded in late 2011. The Baker is de­signed for us­abil­ity, as­pi­ra­tional value and per­for­mance, pri­or­i­tized in that or­der. The most im­por­tant thing is that the Baker is easy to use and does not re­quire its users to change their daily rou­tines or

Björn Ham­mer in­spects the Baker cook­stove

be­ing built in the Nairobi fac­tory.

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