The Haines Solar Cooker is useful in developing countries because firewood is increasingly scarce and expensive for the two billion people who rely on it for cooking. Wood stoves can be used on overcast days, but they require constant supervision. A solar cooker can cook or bake whenever the sun shines while being supervised at a distance from the shade because it never burns food.
- Pays from the profit not the pocket. Saving $9 on fuel every month, a solar cooker will pay for itself in a few months, and yield a profit every month thereafter.
- Saves Time. The cooker is set up in minutes and watched from the shade with no danger of burning as it cooks, bakes, or pasteurizes water. By contrast, collecting firewood, feeding a cooking fire and stirring the food to prevent burning is very time-consuming.
- Saves Health. Lung disease from cooking smoke is a leading cause of death in developing countries, and many children suffer burns from cooking fires. A solar cooker eliminates these problems.
- Saves the Environment. A solar cooker produces zero emissions, reducing global warming and local deforestation.
In October, 2013, 291 Haines cookers of an earlier design were distributed in the Nairobi area by Faustine “Mama Solar” Odaba. Three months later, Rotary evaluators found that five of every six families were solar cooking at least weekly, half of the families used their cooker every day, and a third cooked two meals a day with the solar cooker. On average, the families reported saving $9 USD a month on fuel costs, and reduced their use of firewood by 77 percent. The “number one” reason given for loving the solar cooker was that it “saved time.” Because the cooker never burns food, women could “multi-task” while dinner cooked. They could even make Ugali (thick hominy mush) without stirring; a kind of miracle! And the cooker could pasteurize many liters of water a day for free.
Because of the popularity of these solar cookers, the Rotary Governor for District 9212, Bimal Kantaria, arranged for his company, Elgon-Kenya, through a subsidiary, Global Hardware, Ltd., to import materials for 5,000 Haines Solar Cookers into Nairobi, Kenya, and is making them available in wholesale quantities (enough material for 50 cookers) at cost ($15 per cooker) to solar cooking entrepreneurs.
Marketing advantage in developing countries: For marketing purposes, a solar cooker has a huge advantage over other products, because it can cut the cost of cooking fuel by half. This means the cooker will pay for itself in a few months, and yield a profit for every month thereafter.
A solar cooker is not an expense, it is a moneymaker. In other words, you get double your money back AND you get to keep the solar cooker. Even families who collect, rather than buy firewood, will benefit, because a solar cooker can cut the time spent collecting fuel in half. Indeed the savings in time and money can be even greater if the solar cooker is used all day, to make bread or cakes or to pasteurize water, when it would be too expensive to keep a fire going all day.
Marketing challenges in developing countries: Solar cookers have two marketing challenges. First, most potential customers do not understand solar cooking, so an hour or more demonstration is often necessary to interest them. Second, many families that need a solar cooker may not be able to afford to pay “up front” for a cooker. Both challenges can be turned into opportunities:
Demonstrating cookers: The need to demonstrate the cooker suggests that the “affinity” marketing model (used to sell Avon or Tupperware products) would work best for solar cookers. For example, a salesman might demonstrate the cooker:
- In front of the house so the neighbors can see.
- At work during lunch where co-workers can see.
- At large family gatherings.
- On the sidelines watching a sports event.
- At a social occasion or community meeting.
- At a church “pot luck” lunch or celebration.
- At a party to which friends have been invited to taste solar cooked food.
- At a farmer’s market.
To purchase a Haines Solar Cooker in Nairobi, and for training and recipes, contact:
Faustine Odaba, Director
P. O. Box 60358-00200
Uhuru Phase IV (Jerusalem Shopping Centre)
Telephone: +254722828317 or +254722818681