Lucas Belenky, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Top Third Ventures Global, maker of the Baker cookstove (bakerproduct. com), placed design and the production life cycle at the centre of the enterprise since its start in 2011. It manufactures the cookstoves in Nairobi, Kenya.
While many initiatives to improve access to energyefficient products for lowincome households are well intentioned, what are some of the common mistakes you see in the products on offer? I think that some initiatives lose their focus of who their customers are and do not place enough emphasis on design, branding and marketing. It is more common in subSaharan Africa for a company or organization pushing their revolutionary product to change their customer (i.e., move operations to another country) instead of changing their product.
How can social enterprises create more appealing products for low-income households? What, in your view, needs to change before there will be greater take-up of energy-efficient products? There needs to be more focus on and dialogue with the customer. Social enterprises often focus more on the interests of grant or donor organizations because there is a lot of grant/donor money available. Removing the free money from the equation and encouraging investment will shift the focus back to business fundamentals, such as paying attention to the customer.