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African Makers Media: calamity vs. #cleancookstoves.

Short mini-documentaries about African makers of clean cookstoves and smokeless fuel, with a social media campaign to save lives & trees.

Photo of Diane  L. Hendrix
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Half the world's population (3 billion, mostly women) cook on open fires, but most don't know that home fires are more toxic than the smoke of 200+ cigarettes, daily. Carbon from wood-fuels is the second leading cause of global warming.  African Makers Media's video (above) introduces a few change makers and the impact we plan with their stories.

At 6'7" Tom Osborn, from western Kenya, hoped to be a basketball star. Instead, when his mom fell sick, his science club project at Innovate Kenya became his first startup, and he put his college scholarship on hold.  With GreenChar, Tom plans to "mitigate climate change while creating employment and driving economic growth."

Half Maasai Payan ole-MoiYoi had worked as a design engineer in the U.S.(Seattle) for a decade, but he decided to raise $18,000 on Kickstarter and came home to Nairobi two years ago, determined to build a cook stove that's cheap, durable, safe to use and loved by customers. With ambitious ideas for building a huge customer base, he's been on TV and in the news with six stove designs for Kenya Stove.

Tom and Payan met recently in Nairobi and have begun to work together. Tom sells Payan's stoves, and Payan is designing an efficient machine for Tom, who makes briquettes from his family's sugar cane waste. Tom needs a talented designer/maker he can trust and stoves to sell. Payan is refining his sales strategy to reach 100s of thousands, with a growing design business and a smart sales and maker team.

Three hundred such startups work in Kenya, trying to survive by selling #cleancookstoves to save some of the 4.3 million who die each year.  In six months we aim to produce new stories of #cleancookstoves and fuel makers and recruit African social media and tech designers for an interactive platform and outreach campaign, using local crews & partners.

Stories of innovative problem solvers, well told and well distributed, empower change: protecting lives and trees, reducing carbon emissions. A McKinsey report says, “capturing and sharing inspiring stories from the front lines may be the first step: a way to shift perception, motivate audiences, and inspire collaborations that can allow good ideas to reach scale.”  See our plans at  African Makers Media.

Our mini-docs are personal stories that show the who, why and how of African makers, to engage global viewers in inventive problem solving. We aim to build awareness and demand for #cleancookstoves via social media in Africa and the diaspora

We produce stories for hundreds of thousands, using social media, mobile phones and the channels that actually change behaviors used by our Tanzanian partners, Media for Development International, who  have reached millions to improve health.

African Makers Media seeks African designers to build a collaborative platform and social media managers to raise #cleancookstoves action in communities. Share your ideas in the comments below! 

We seek other stories from video makers in East Africa and beyond. Fuel maker Betty Ikalany makes charcoal from tons of peanut shells in Uganda, while 90% of forests in some areas have disappeared. Betty also gives safe haven to women who learn to sell clean fuel, as they prepare to leave abusive husbands.   

Stories link investors and mentors to makers, to help them reach massive numbers of new customers. We invite partners and sponsors to help launch this story and outreach campaign by September, 2016.

This winter our crews will film personal stories of startups that work to make daily cooking fast, safe and green.  Collaborate with us for stories of change that change the story of Africa. We need your skills and ideas. Contact us at African Makers Media.

Attachments (1)

new YWI one pager.pdf

Young World Inventors was inspired by my MIT students who started nonprofits and companies as undergraduates, working across cultures. We have filmed with ten startups, with three more coming. African Makers Media is a #cleancookstove initiative of Makers working for clean air and reforestation, with stories for global viewers.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Diane  L. Hendrix

Thanks, Susannah,  and you ecoart projects are intriguing.  I am looking for collaborators to build audiences for stories on on #cleancookstoves, as well as Cyrus Kabiru in Nairobi, who "gives trash a second chance" and makes collectibles from digital garbage.

Photo of Susannah Tantemsapya

Great project Diane. I'm excited to see it grow!

Photo of Eric Liao

Hi Diane! It was great meeting you today! Your vision for Youth World Inventors and #cleancookstoves is inspiring; it's definitely important to have more visibility on the innovations, creative pursuits, and perspectives of African youth and how they are making and telling their own stories. I would love to see how we might be able to support each other's work in the future!

Photo of Diane  L. Hendrix

Eric, it was such a pleasure meeting and learning about the Berkman Center's global program in Youth and Media, especially in Africa!  Looking forward to collaborating on shared goals and trading ideas, introductions and skills.  Till next time -- who knows, maybe you could visit Nairobi for a podcast diary...?

Photo of Jonna Lind

Brilliant project!

Photo of Goldie Eder

Please watch this video and consider contributing to this project!  You too can help eradicate deaths by charcoal cookstove fires  in Kenya by spreading the word and helping get this innovative product out to  Kenyans and people in other African countries. 

Photo of Diane  L. Hendrix

Thanks for your support, Goldie.  I may collaborate with others on this site to bring the project to viewers in Africa, the US and Asia too. Maybe we can recruit interest groups dealing with health and climate challenges. Might you bring it to your film series?

Photo of Philip Geisler

Diane, I know how many lives are in pain or lost due to smoky and cheap cookstoves - this is an outstanding, attention-grabbing, and life-saving project. So important! Thanks for your work! 

Photo of Diane  L. Hendrix

Thanks, Philip. It's a huge health and enviro problem, since wood and charcoal fires are the second leading cause of climate change. We need lots of collaborators to make this happen. Maybe some Berliners might join us?

Photo of Wills Ong'esa

Hi Diane,
You have a great story here. This will directly reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere and environment as well as save lives.

Photo of Diane  L. Hendrix

Thank you, Wills.  If we get these stories to the right networks, they should raise awareness and we hope give people safer, cheaper ways to cook.

Photo of Tom Osborn

Thanks Diane for sharing our story. We need great people like you to share awareness about the work that we are doing. 

Photo of Diane  L. Hendrix

Your commitment to this work is awesome. I'm eager to film your work in Kibera with Elijah.

Photo of Kevin Kung

Great work! Another potential story that deals heavily with climate change, you might consider Samuel Rigu from Safi Organics Ltd. in Kenya. He is creating a new blend of carbon-negative fertilizers for small-scale farmers from farm/agricultural waste. He claims that farmers' yield can increase by 30% due to soil-acid-reversing properties of the blend. Let me know if you want to be connected.

Photo of Diane  L. Hendrix

Thanks so much, Kevin, and even more for telling me about OpenIDEO!  I've send comments to four other makers here who could be mutually helpful in telling stories that improve climate and health.