In this interview, the Managing Director, Mercy Ikeji shares their activities in the clean cookstoves sector.
Give us a brief introduction about your organisation. What are the objectives of your organisation?
Dezionite Helping Hands Development Initiative (DHDI) seeks to alleviate poverty through enterprise development. DHDI addresses the cooking energy problem using a market based approach. DHDI has chosen some Nigerian clean cookstoves manufacturers as her supplier and distributes the stoves through a network of micro-entrepreneurs. DHDI identifies micro-entrepreneurs in its target communities (typically people with existing small shops) and provides them low-interest loans, training, and ongoing support to launch a cookstove business.
What does your organisation seek to achieve in Nigeria’s cooking energy market?
Dezionite Helping Hands Development Initiative is tackling uptake and last mile distribution of clean cookstoves through their Dezionite Entrepreneurs (DE) who are equipped with a startup kit of inventory, training and marketing support to reach rural consumers. The micro-consignment arrangement where the entrepreneurs earn commission and only pay for the inventory post sales is a scalable, flexible way to reduce start up financial risk for poor women who lack assets.
How are your customers reacting to your products in the market – benefits of using your product?
Our customers are accepting the clean cooking alternatives even though they complain that the price of the stove is too high and the fuel is not readily available.
Job creation and the empowerment of women seem to be increasingly important. How has your organization helped to drive employment generation and the empowerment of women?
Dezionite Helping Hand Development Initiatives empowers women in rural areas through our micro entrepreneurs empowerment scheme, 80% of our staff are women.
If you are asked to advise the Federal Government of Nigeria on policy options, what are the three most important things the government can do to expand the market?
The government should increase awareness of the danger and the numerous health hazards associated with cooking with open fire. Government should also support organization that distribute clean cook stoves through grants and low interest loan to enable them distribute more stoves. In addition, the government should have a dedicated committee to address all issues regarding clean cooking.
If an enabling environment is not created by government, what future risks do you envisage?
There is not much risk as Dezionite Helping Hands does not depend on government support to operate and meet targets. We look forward to receiving funding from multinational corporations and donors.
What risk does your business face and what is your biggest challenge?
Our major challenge is inadequate funding to meet up with our milestones.
Is there any other thing you would like to share?
Consideration should be given to young entrepreneurs who are just joining the clean cookstove industry. Support should not be given to only the big organizations who have been receiving funding over the years. The young entrepreneurs should also be given opportunity to scale.