- 28th July 2022
By Dr. Anshika Singh (Finovista).
Clean cooking refers to cooking using clean fuels such as solar thermal and PV-based energy, electrical energy, as well as energy-efficient devices, to help reduce environmental consequences, improve the health and well-being of communities, and advance gender equality goals. While there is a considerable emphasis on accelerating the decarbonisation of global energy systems from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy, the enduring global problem of lack of access to clean cooking is mostly overlooked. In India, the market for clean and electric cooking devices is quite limited and is currently mostly dominated by Chinese imports (up to 75%)1. But indeed, well-known Indian companies are progressively taking on the task of manufacturing electric cooking devices, and as a result, the Indian electric cooker market has accounted for around INR 245 crores in 2020-212.
There are generally two market sectors in clean cooking: well-known brands and small & medium enterprises/entrepreneurs. The value of entrepreneurship is crucial for any sector for a multitude of reasons, ranging from assisting in the growth of societal change to advancing innovation into more efficient, low-carbon technologies. Similarly, when it comes to promoting clean cooking, entrepreneurship in the right direction has the great capacity to revolutionise the way we live and work on a local or national level. Presently, these small-and-medium enterprises/entrepreneurs are often overlooked because of either a lack of awareness among them about market access, in-house capacity building and skills development. The lack of information exchange between research institutions and business sectors dealing with clean cooking devices is also impeding entrepreneurship development in clean cooking device manufacturing in India.
In a similar vein, Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS), through its India country partner Finovista, launched the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) in India to capture, bring to the forefront and support entrepreneurs in the field of energy efficiency, solar and electric-based clean cooking at local, regional, and national levels. The programme also aims to educate entrepreneurs on various industrial/commercial activity requirements for setting up business in the sector and to nurture innovation and strengthen their capacity. This simultaneously aligns with the Government of India’s vision of the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” & “Make in India” programme, and the “Go Electric” campaign, launched to promote electric vehicles and electric cooking uptake in India. Taking these as inspirations, the EDP programme aims to provide an unrivalled platform for Indian enterprises to make India a global hub for clean cooking device manufacturing.
Potential entrepreneurs for the EDP programme were chosen through expert committee examination across two stages. Entrepreneurs chosen under stage I evaluation were received 6 weeks of training, to help them to develop skills and capacity in areas such as user-friendly product design, cost-effective manufacturing, market strategy, and business skills. By giving equal attention to technology, development, and commercialization along with finance, marketing, taxation, and other statutory compliances, the programme further envisions the holistic approach for the development of entrepreneurs. To mentor the entrepreneurs, industry practitioners and experts from academia were identified in a unique way. This was followed by Stage 2 evaluation to select the top three entrepreneurs based on pre-defined evaluation criteria, to assess their product development skills and approach to problem-solving, along with assessment of business models, entrepreneurial capabilities, and company profiles. The entrepreneurs will be supported in the 2nd stage through a grant of up to INR 2.50 lakhs each and one-to-one mentoring support. Entrepreneurs have submitted statements explaining their specific support areas for which they request one-to-one mentoring. Based on these statements, suitable mentors will be allocated to work with entrepreneurs on a weekly basis, whereby the one-to-one coaching will be provided in a live business environment and entrepreneurs will share and implement their respective business plans and ideas.
As a consequence of MECS’ EDP programme, entrepreneurs were provided with access to a broader platform and given the opportunity to contact stakeholders from different fields viz., academia, industry, and government organizations. Entrepreneurs also created networking relationships with potential large-scale bulk procurement agencies in order to expand and collaborate. The programme is also expected to catalyse major governmental support as well as public and private investment in R&D and skills development in those enterprises. Programmes such as EDP are critical as they assist in identifying relevant clean culinary entrepreneurs, boosting entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm and ability to experiment with product and device development, receiving financial support, scaling up businesses, and providing opportunities for in-depth networking. In a nutshell, these clean energy-based entrepreneurial solutions and services have great potential to expand access to modern energy cooking services, thereby enhancing people’s health and well-being, advancing gender equality, contributing towards global decarbonisation targets and mitigating the devastating impacts of the climate crisis.
Read further about the EDP programme and the profiles of the shortlisted entrepreneurs for the 2022 cohort in the brochure:
Featured image, top: Dishes prepared using the electric pressure cooker (image credit: Finovista, 2022).