The Mashesha Stove, Helping Address Energy Inefficiency in Rural Schools



South African entrepreneur Louise Williamson has come up with an innovative solution for schools in rural areas that still use open fires in semi-enclosed shelters to cook for learners. The social innovator has developed outdoor wood-burning stoves which use less fuel than traditional stoves.

The cost-saving and energy efficient product is specifically aimed at rural communities and schools that use wood on a daily basis to cook for pupils under the national nutritional programme.

“The stove was designed to aid rural schools using firewood to cook for learners daily in the National nutritional programme as well as for individual users to replace substandard paraffin stoves which are causing devastating fires and to simply to be a cost effective and healthier alternative option. The fact that cardboard briquettes can be made from waste found in the community and used as a viable fuel source makes this stove appealing.”

According to Williamson, the stove uses 56% less wood than traditional open fires and burns cleaner, with hardly any smoke. The stove has a double-barrelled metal chamber with strategically placed air vents to allow for natural convection airflow that promotes high-heated combustion and a secondary ignition of syngas.

“When I visited schools in our local communities I was touched by the environment in which the cooks work, I could see old women cooking in the heat with smoke from the fire, I designed the stove to specifically address the energy inefficiency and unhealthy circumstances the rural schools are faced with daily, while cooking for schoolchildren in the nutritional programme, still using firewood,” Williamson adds, Lowvelder reported.

The Mashesha Stove was recently awarded a R50 000 prize sponsored by the SAB Foundation for the best social innovation at the Ventureburn Pitching Den during this year’s Innovation Summit.
In 2015, the project also won the African Energy Award in the innovation category and was applauded for its efficient use as a renewable energy.