In Uganda, more than 95% of the population uses solid fuels for cooking and heating (GACC, 2013). Women and girls face a daunting task, as they travel increasingly long distances in search of fuel wood. This drudgery makes it particularly difficult for the girls to attend school and for their mothers to engage in other productive and potentially income- generating livelihood enhancing activities.
Agnes Irasu is an entrepreneur working to support her family in addition to her household responsibilities. She comes from a small village in Uganda, and is a tailor by profession. Unlike many women in her village, she had the rare opportunity to go to school.
Agnes started distributing improved cookstoves after attending the Empowered Entrepreneur Training facilitated by Appropriate Energy Saving Technologies (AEST) Ltd with support from Winrock International and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC). It was during this training that Agnes learned about design, production and the benefits of improved charcoal cookstoves. She became aware of the detrimental health impacts of smoke produced from traditional cooking facilities (three -stones) on her family.
To date she has sold more than 100 cookstoves and with proceeds from her cookstove business Agnes has diversified her business to include retailing tomatoes, onions and other vegetables providing her income security. The improved cookstoves enterprise has eased her the financial burden of taking her children to school.
Unlike her tailoring business which doesn’t guarantee her sales, Agnes describes her cookstoves business as a sure deal.