December 16, 2014
2014 has been quite a year! We’re so grateful for the inspiring work of our partners on the ground, the volunteers that have given their time and energy to our efforts, our inaugural class of Potential Energy Fellows, our supporters near and far, and everyone who has helped in some way to make 2014 a success. Before we look too far into the future, we wanted to take a moment to look back on a few of our favorite moments from the past year. In 2014, Potential Energy:
1. Collected Early User Data in Ethiopia
As part of our randomized control trial in Ethiopia, we are working with UC Berkeley PhD candidates Angeli Kirk and Javier Rosa, as well as the Center for Effective Global Action, to monitor stove usage and gauge the Ethiopian market’s interest in the Berkeley-Ethiopia Stove. In conjunction with our Ethiopian partners, we installed small heat sensors called Stove Use Monitors (SUMs) on market trial stoves in order to track how often the stoves are used once customers bring them home. Since the only way to benefit from using a fuel-efficient stove is to actually use it, this data has been particularly useful in helping us to gain insight and reflect on our marketing techniques in order to to ensure maximum stove usage. This picture shows a snapshot of usage from one of our earliest customers.
2. Launched a Fellowship Program to Explore New Markets for Expansion
Around the world, millions of families stand to benefit from clean cooking technologies. This summer we launched Potential Energy’s inaugural Fellowship program, hiring a crop of young and inspiring leaders who traveled to West Africa to help us identify markets where there is not only a need for clean cooking, but also where, if we were to launch, we would have a high likelihood of success. Fellows spent time in Benin, Burkina Faso and Cameroon conducting focus groups, observing cooking practices, understanding user preferences, measuring household emissions levels produced by open fire cooking and assessing our potential for impact. All in the all the Summer Fellowship class was a huge success! Federico Bianchi, our Fellow assigned to Burkina Faso, is pictured with a group of women outside of Bobo Dioulasso.
3. Launched a Mobile Phone Survey Program
Working in the Bay Area exposes us to so many groundbreaking technological innovations, such as VOTO Mobile. In 2014, we started using VOTO’s cell phone survey program in Ethiopia. Our Ethiopian customers now receive brief voice-based surveys and reminders on their cell phones from Potential Energy. With a quick press of a button, customers are able to report back to us on important data such as their daily fuel expenditures, enabling us to quickly receive updates and monitor the benefits stove users experience from their Berkeley-Ethiopia Stove.
4. Expanded to New Regions in Darfur
In partnership with AECOM Sudan, we expanded our reach to new markets within Darfur, launching stove sales trials in conjunction with local nonprofit partners Nidaa and Malam Darfur Peace and Development. Under the guidance of Abubakr Mohammed, pictured above holding a stove, new users were trained on stove usage and were offered the chance to purchase the stove. In total, 600 stoves were sold during this market trial, and we are really excited by the early results. In addition, 360 households in these new regions were surveyed about household cooking practices, fuel expenditures and general demographics, helping us to understand more about potential users in these new areas.
5. We Tested Stoves on our Own
Leveraging our close partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), this year staff members from Potential Energy were trained on how to become stove testers, getting certified by some of the leading testing technicians in the world. Spending time at the lab, staffers Michelle Kreger and Debra Stein got their hands dirty testing new technologies for emissions performance alongside LBNL staff. A Berkeley-Darfur Stove under the lab’s fume hood is pictured here.
6. Hired New Team Members
At the start of the year, Michelle Kreger took on the role as our new Executive Director. Since then, we’ve grown our team as well as our Board of Directors. In 2014, PE welcomed Morrow Cater as our newest Board member as well as the following staff members: Diallo Afadhali, Mark Bonney, Maika Hemphill and Abu Bakr Mohammed. In addition to some of our long-time contributors, we’ve also had the pleasure to work with some amazing new volunteers, including Kathy Guis, Kim MacKoy and Caitlyn Toombs. Best of all, our favorite intern, Amanda Kwan left after graduating from Cal and is now back working with us as a consultant! Meet all of our team members by clicking here.
7. Innovated Data Collection & Analysis
Last year, UC Berkeley PhD candidate Danny Wilson worked with us to monitor stove usage in North Darfur as part of Potential Energy’s first stove use monitors (SUMs) project. By comparing SUMs data to in-person survey responses, we were able to learn a lot about what training messages and interventions encouraged stove use (and how wanting to be polite can often cloud in-person survey responses). In 2014, we applied these learnings to our stove program in Darfur. Danny Wilson and his team presented this research and they’ve received some great recognition for their innovative approach to data analysis, which includes this amazing visualization.
8. Press Coverage
From industry publication Stanford Social Innovation Review to local broadcasts on the KQED Quest television program to national coverage (PBS Newshour), we’re so excited about the recognition we received in 2014! Click here to see our recent press coverage.