Partner Spotlight: African Clean Energy’s Innovative Business Model Saves Lives While Empowering Its Women Workers

Petra Barbu

Petra is a content marketer passionate about social enterprise, impact investing, and microfinance.

African Clean Energy is an organization dedicated to saving lives and promoting gender equality by providing jobs for women through the production of clean and safe cookstoves. While based in Lesotho, they are expanding, and recently crossed the Indian ocean to expand in Cambodia. For guidance as they grow, ACE recently teamed up with Raffaella (you can read her story here), a human resources professional looking to make more of an impact, and worked together to build a comprehensive HR foundation for the company that prioritized gender equality and supported the economic empowerment of women in Cambodia. Read on to learn more about the amazing work they achieved together.

A child plays near the new, safe cookstove.
A child plays near the new, safe cookstove.

What problem does African Clean Energy solve?

Three billion people around the world are cooking on open fires or using dangerous fuels. Though not frequently discussed, indoor air pollution contributes to 4 million deaths annually, more than HIV and malaria combined. African Clean Energy strives to solve this problem by producing a cookstoves that reduce air pollution to safe levels. ACE stoves reduce fuel use by 70% while reducing costs by 50%. ACE manufactures and distributes clean cooking stoves to underserved customers in emerging markets. At the same time, ACE is committed to supporting women’s empowerment, especially in the emerging market in Cambodia. 45% of Cambodian women were reported as being illiterate in 2004, and 16% of Cambodian girls were enrolled in lower secondary schools in 2004. Many Cambodian families rely on the incomes of the women in the household, and ACE wanted to ensure that their practices supported economic empowerment as they expanded in this region.

How does African Clean Energy create social impact?

ACE aims to make this life-saving technology accessible to all, especially vulnerable populations. The improved cookstove market is dominated by low-cost, low-efficiency products. ACE believes impoverished people deserve high quality, high-efficiency cookstoves. ACE partners with microfinance platforms like Kiva to make the ACE 1 cookstove accessible to even the poorest people.

Local women with the ACE cookstove.
Local women with the ACE cookstove.

Why did African Clean Energy choose to host an Experteer?

ACE recently set up operations in Cambodia and, “we needed a support in enhancing our current HR structure in order to support business growth through ethical principles. We were introduced through the GACC and were looking to receive some HR and recruitment support in Cambodia, as it’s a relatively new market for us. We were also interested in maintaining a gender balance and and creating job and development opportunities in Cambodia.”

How did the Experteer add value to African Clean Energy?

Rafaella gave expert guidance on HR best practices and helped to hire new staff, as well as offering guidance for hiring in future. This helped us create a solid HR foundation for our business and ultimately supported our long-term growth.

Raffaella posing together with locals, after an ACE 1 demo.
Raffaella posing together with locals, after an ACE 1 demo.

What advice do you have for finding and working with Experteers?

Make sure you carve out enough time to achieve everything you agreed on in your Experteering Planning Guide, or be flexible and find some extra time to ensure that both you and the Experteer accomplish everything you were hoping to on your project.

If you like this story, be sure to read the blog post from Rafaella for the Experteer’s perspective!

Join African Clean Energy in making an impact by volunteering in Asia, Experteering your human resources skills, or signing up for a membership with MovingWorlds.