Isidore Nzeyimana, entrepreneur and inventor (as he was recently credited by the World Intellectual Property Organization), envisions his company, TEKUTANGIJE, having a profound environmental and social impact in his native Rwanda.
‘Tekutangije’ literally means, ‘cooking without waste’, in Rwanda’s native language, Kinyarwanda. No waste is the purpose of TEKUTANGIJE’s cooking stoves. Their technology is based on the principle of natural ventilation, increasing the efficiency of cooking apparatus, and reducing carbon emissions and deforestation in developing countries.
TEKUTANGIJE’s stoves differ from every available alternative, performing three functions at once: cooking produce, heating water and grilling foodstuffs; thereby saving fuel and reducing pollution. Isidore is not concerned with competitors, noting that ‘the product is both new and innovative; there is no other product like ours available. All that it is needed is to advertise and expose our products to the public effectively.’
While working as a journalist, Isidore became aware of the scarcity of firewood available to Rwandans and the health-related issues produced by cooking with it. Continuing his studies following a successful military career Isidore began to conceptualize the product he wanted to manufacture. In 2008, he left his studies at the Kigali Health Institute (KHI) to research natural ventilation and energy efficient cooking techniques. Although Isidore knew the product he wanted to manufacture, his participation in the Terimbere Business Plan Competition, organized by JCI Rwanda with the support of BiD Network, inspired him to establish TEKUTANGIJE as a for-profit company. Isidore and TEKUTANGIJE would go on to be one of fourteen winners in this competition.
Isidore considers that victory to be fundamental to his progression as an entrepreneur and in TEKUTANGIJE’s evolution. The company quickly began to receive media attention and interest from the Rwandan government. Now Isidore and TEKUTANGIJE are frequently asked to present their technology at government-sponsored events, and the Ministries of Education and Trade and Industry have become strong supporters.
In a personal sense, the Growing SMEs Conference in Rwanda transformed Isidore from an independent researcher into a fully-fledged businessman. Initially quite shy at the conference, Isidore quickly became self-confident, which he credits to his belief in the innovative product he has created.
Isidore recently negotiated a USD 134,000 investment in TEKUTANGIJE that will be used for promotion and increasing production. As the business grows he believes TEKUTANGIJE can become a major employer of Rwandan technical school graduates and can hence make a real contribution to the economy.
As an indication of the potential of the business Isidore was offered USD 5 million for his innovative technology, an offer he swiftly rejected. Isidore’s ambition for TEKUTANGIJE is to produce Rwanda’s first globally exported product, establishing a manufacturing base in the country. This will create and provide jobs for Rwandans, with Isidore aiming to eventually employ more than 100 permanent staff throughout the country.
TEKUTANGIJE can also potentially provide attractive health, environmental and economic benefits. Use of the TEKUTANGIJE stove could reduce deforestation and desertification in the country – as it efficiently utilizes 100% of the energy contained in wood – leading to reduced greenhouse emissions. This is significant since charcoal, currently the most commonly used fuel, only utilizes 30% of total wood energy.
The TEKUTANGIJE stove greatly improves access to clean water (by boiling), and reduces smoke pollution, lowering the incidence of lung cancer. And it can save the average Rwandan family up to 60% of the budget it allocates to cooking fuel.
The benefits of the TEKUTANGIJE stove are clearly applicable to many African countries and emerging markets throughout the world.
For more information or to invest in TEKUTANGIJE, please contact BiD Network’s matchmaking service at: matchmaking[at]bidnetwork.org