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Acumen, in partnership with MECS, announce the release of a new report ‘Recipe for Success: Lessons from Acumen’s Cookstoves Investments’

20th April 2023

Acumen, in partnership with Loughborough University under the UK aid (FCDO) funded Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme, announced the release of a new report – Recipe for Success: Lessons from Acumen’s Cookstoves Investments.

Since 2015, Acumen has invested over $6 million USD in five companies that are transforming the way households cook through improved cookstoves and access to cleaner fuels. The report details lessons learned from these investments, along with work conducted in partnership with MECS to address the lack of capital in the clean cooking sub-sector and to investigate how to rapidly accelerate a transition from biomass to genuinely “clean” electric or gas cooking. The project aimed to support five of Acumen’s current investees who were already exploring or piloting modern energy cooking solutions (gas or electric cooking) as part of their product suite, through the provision of technical assistance grants and investment capital to further the growth of the sector.

These investments have become one of the most impactful and profitable sub-sectors Acumen has ever invested in. These five companies have:

• Sold a collective 3.8 million stoves and impacted 21 million lives.

• Saved customers hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel and health costs.

• Mitigated 18 million tons of carbon dioxide.

A BURN Manufacturing customer, who is also a mom and a farmer uses her electric pressure cooker to make meals for her family in Kenya. Photo credit: Peter Irungu and Acumen.

“What we’ve seen from the cooking sector is a validation of Acumen’s Patient Capital model: giving dedicated entrepreneurs the resources and time they need has enabled them to achieve deep impact at widespread scale,” said Amrita Bhandari, Acumen’s Chief of Insights and Strategy, and one of the authors of the report. “This report shows the value of leveraging alternative sources of capital (carbon finance) and using strategic partnerships to confront problems of poverty. We could not be more grateful to MECS for their collaboration, nor more excited for the next phase of clean cooking: modern energy cooking.

Commenting on the launch of the report, MECS Research Director Professor Ed Brown (Loughborough University, UK) states, “This is why this report is so valuable — it describes the realities of patient investing in a difficult global context, where sub-Saharan Africa (outside of South Africa) has produced a half percentage point of historical emissions, but is frighteningly exposed to the climate crisis, and points to a future where clean cooking not only dramatically improves the lives of millions, but also contributes to our common goal of mitigating the climate crisis.”

About Acumen:

Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. We invest Patient Capital in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $137 million in 139 companies across Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the United States. We are also developing a global community of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills and determination to create a more inclusive world. In 2015, Acumen was named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies. Learn more at and on Twitter @Acumen

About MECS:

Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) is a seven-year programme funded by UK aid (FCDO) which aims to accelerate the transition in cooking away from biomass to modern energy. By integrating modern energy cooking services into energy planning, MECS hopes to leverage investment in clean electricity access, both grid and off-grid, to address the clean cooking challenge. Modern energy cooking is tier 5 clean cooking, and therefore MECS also supports new innovations in other relevant cooking fuels such as biogas, LPG (bio) and ethanol, though the evidence points to the viability, cost effectiveness, and user satisfaction that energy efficient electric cooking devices provide. The intended outcome is a market-ready range of innovations (technology and business models) which lead to improved choices of affordable, reliable and sustainable modern energy cooking services for consumers. We seek to have the MECS principles adopted in the SDG 7 global tracking framework, including integrating access (7.1), renewables (7.2) and energy efficiency (7.3) and promote an informed integrated approach.  

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Featured image, top: An RVE.SOL customer uses the electric pressure cooker powered by solar energy from RVE.SOL’s solar mini-grid in Busia, Kenya. Photo credit: Peter Irungu and Acumen.

Opportunity: Women in Modern Energy Cooking (WMEC) initiative launched