About Us: Blog

Cooking adventures with the Berkeley-Darfur Stove

Naren at our stove flat kit manufacturer Shri Hari Industries in New Delhi has been cooking up some tasty meals on the Berkeley-Darfur Stove!

“Look at Annie”, consoled missus. Does the fact that he can’t sing deter him from believing that he will one day be mistaken for Mallikarjun Mansur?”

That perked up the lad a bit. Slanderous libel, of course. I sing very very well indeed. But mother and son had a laugh and the missus, going all “awww” at my evident inability to see the humor in that, said “Lets grill some chicken”

“On the Berkely Darfur stove?” I piped up excitedly

“Why not?”

Read about Naren’s cooking adventures on his blog:

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Be part of Potential Energy’s inaugural class of Summer Fellows! Check out the job description here.

March 8 is International Women’s Day!

Every March 8, millions of people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day. In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked our colleague Omnia Abbas to share some thoughts about her views of the shifting role of women in Darfur. Here’s what she said about a recent experience meeting with Potential Energy’s customers:

Everytime I go to Darfur, I’m inspired by the women I meet, and their resilience in the face of immense hardship. The stoves they use are important to them for many reasons – they’ve even formed groups where they share tips on how to use the stove and lend out their stoves to friends who do not yet have their own. This December, I met with a small group of women who’ve been using their Potential Energy stoves for over 2 years. As with all customer meetings, I started the conversation by asking about the stove, how they felt about it, and what recommendations they had for modifications. After covering these topics, our conversation then shifted to the subject of gender, and the effect that being a woman in Darfur has on employment, permanent settlement and livelihoods.

It was no surprise that these women have been affected physically, mentally and economically – this is so common in Darfur. I was struck, however, by how these women’s roles had shifted as a result of the conflict: Many displaced Darfuris have a background in farming or herding and have limited work opportunities in their displacement camps and surrounding areas. Besides the few lucky men who’ve found jobs with the UN as security agents, drivers and the like, most men find it increasingly difficult to secure a paying job. In contrast, many women in Darfur have ventured into new roles as their family’s primary “breadwinner” that, prior to the conflict, had been held by men. In these new roles, women often find themselves salvaging and rebuilding their lives and adjusting to new circumstances.

According to the women I spoke with, our stove has played an important role in this shift in gender roles within their households. Because the stove cooks so quickly, women have more time during the day to search for work for the day to earn a bit of extra money. Because the stove reduces the amount of firewood needed to cook, women are able to save money that they would have otherwise spent purchasing cooking fuel and are now contributing more to household financial decision-making. Speaking to me about what she does with the money saved by using our stove, Khadija noted: “I plug gaps in my daily expenditures and it keeps my husband happy until he can find a job. The children have become accustomed to coming to me for their allowance.”

The 10-year-old conflict continues to shape and re-shape the lives of Darfuri people. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in 2013, at least 460,000 people in Darfur fled their homes as a result of ongoing clashes.

To me, these women’s journeys through their use of our stove reveal a lot that is both personal and universal. This International Women’s Day, I’d like to take a moment to honor these women who face so much just to feed their families. This International Women’s Day, I encourage you to support our ongoing efforts to empower women like Khadija.

Thank you for your commitment to our work,

Omnia Abbas
Sudan Field Representative

Potential Energy at the 6th MOJAMOJA Brunch & Benefit Concert

The 6th Annual MOJAMOJA Brunch and Benefit Concert presented by 89.9 KCRW was held in Hollywood on Saturday, January 25th. The event raised funds and awareness for Oxfam America and for Potential Energy and featured performances by Hiatus Kaiyote, Rhye, Kelela, Cut Chemist, The Kin, Irene Diaz, and Boogaloo Assassins.

Thank you to everybody who came out to support Potential Energy! View photos of the event on CrowdAlbum.

Garth Trinidad, Garth Fergusen, and Michelle Kreger at Moja Moja

Garth Trinidad (KCRW/Moja Moja), Bob Fergusen (Oxfam America), and PE’s own Executive Director Michelle Kreger at Moja Moja

Photo by Elisa Camahort Page

Executive Director Michelle Kreger and Associate Director Debra Stein with performers at Moja Moja

Executive Director Michelle Kreger and Associate Director Debra Stein with performers.
Photo by Scott Branam.

New Executive Director

We know you have been eager to find out who our new Executive Director would be ever since former Executive Director Andrée Sosler left the team in October. Well, today’s the day, so please join us in welcoming our new Executive Director, Michelle Kreger!

Michelle Kreger, our new Executive Director Michelle comes to Potential Energy after 7 years at Kiva, a nonprofit organization connecting people through lending to alleviate poverty. At Kiva, Michelle spent 5 years building their network of microfinance partners across Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, and 2 years as Senior Director of Kiva’s Strategic Initiatives group, where she was responsible for overseeing their expansion into new impact areas including clean energy, water and sanitation, innovative agriculture and higher education. In 2012, Michelle served as a Rainer Arnhold Fellow, a prestigious program for social entrepreneurs with particularly promising solutions to the big problems in health, poverty, and conservation in developing countries. Prior to joining Kiva, Michelle founded a nonprofit organization in Costa Rica, NatureKids, which focuses on English literacy and environmental sustainability in burgeoning tourist hubs. She also worked at various organizations dedicated to financial inclusion, including ACCION International. Michelle graduated magna cum laude from Boston University with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Economics.

PE Participating in Panel on Women’s Empowerment

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstove invites you to an event to launch the Alliance’s new report, Scaling Adoption of Clean Cooking Solutions through Women’s Empowerment: A Resource Guide

A Panel Discussion on Scaling Clean Cooking Solutions Through Women’s Empowerment


Tim Brown, CEO IDEO
Chuck Slaughter, President & Founder, Living Goods
Debra Stein, Executive Director, Potential Energy
Johanna Matocha, Director, Carbon & Impact Systems Development, The Paradigm Project
Premal Shah*, President, KIVA

Moderated by:

Corinne Hart, Gender & Markets Program Manager, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Lunch Reception to follow

IDEO’s Offices
Pier 28
San Francisco, CA

The Alliance has developed a groundbreaking report, Scaling Adoption of Clean Cooking Solutions through Women’s Empowerment: A Resource Guide, for a wide-variety of sector stakeholders – including practitioners, donors, policymakers, multinational corporations, investors, and academic institutions – to increase their understanding of why women are critical and how to ensure they are included in every clean cooking value chain segment.
Although women are disproportionately impacted by dirty and inefficient cooking practices and reliance on biomass for fuel, they also are crucial partners in the widespread adoption and use of clean cooking solutions because of their central responsibility for cooking and managing household energy. Women have a role to play in every segment of the clean cooking value chain, and their involvement can increase project effectiveness and help scale adoption of products and services, while also impacting their livelihoods.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a public-private partnership to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. Today a staggering 4 million people around the world die annually from exposure to smoke from inefficient cookstoves and women and children are disproportionately impacted. The Alliance’s ‘100 by 20’ goal calls for 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020. The Alliance works with public, private, and non-profit partners to help overcome the market barriers that currently impede the production, deployment, and use of clean cookstoves in the developing world. For more information on the Alliance, please visit www.cleancookstoves.org. For more information on the Resource Guide, please visit www.cleancookstoves.org/gender.


PE Honored with 2013 Tech Award!

The Tech Awards 2013 Laureates and The James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award recipient Dean Kamen. Photo:(c) Charlotte Fiorito for The Tech Museum of Innovation.

“Technology makes us powerful. Technology in the hands of The Tech Awards laureates puts that power to work in ways that build better communities and inspire hope.”- Tim Ritchie, President of The Tech Museum of Innovation

We are thrilled to have been named a 2013 Tech Laureate by the Tech Museum of Innovation!

Congratulations to our fellow The Tech Awards 2013 laureates. They are all doing incredible work. See videos all of the laureates videos here.

For the complete 34-page Gala program booklet, go to thetechawards.thetech.org.

Be sure to watch the KQED special on The Tech Awards on KQED Plus: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 12:30 a.m.

A heartfelt thanks to the Tech Museum of Innovation and our award sponsor, Flextronics for this fantastic opportunity!

Potential Energy Receives Global Citizen Award!

Many thanks to the United Nations Association of the East Bay for recognizing Potential Energy’s work at their annual gala held at the International House in Berkeley.

We were honored to be included among such a distinguished crowd! Other 2013 Global Citizens include: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations, Tiffany Taylor, the International Accountability Project and more!

The Global Citizens award recognizes individuals and organizations working toward achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals which aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2015.

PE Case Studies Featured in New Report on Women’s Empowerment

We’re honored to be included in the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves‘ new publication: Scaling Adoption of Clean Cooking Solutions through Women’s Empowerment.

Potential Energy is profiled several times in this resource guide, which not only highlights our efforts to keep women at the center of our stove design process but also profiles are efforts supported by the Global Alliance to create stove repayment plans organized by Darfuri women’s groups.

To read Scaling Adoption of Clean Cooking Solutions through Women’s Empowerment, please click here.

PE Honored by United Nations Association

Rep. Barbara Lee Keynote Speaker at UN Day Awards Dinner

The United Nations Association-USA East Bay Chapter will present
awards to five individuals and organizations at its 8th Global Citizen Awards Dinner celebrating United Nations Day on Sunday, October 27, 2013, 5:00-8:45 pm. The awards are given for their outstanding achievements in fulfilling the UN Millennium Goals of alleviating poverty, inequality and disparities. The event is co-sponsored and hosted at the International House, UC Berkeley, 2299 Piedmont Avenue (at Bancroft Way).

Congresswoman Barbara Lee will be awarded the Global Citizen Award
for her exemplary accomplishments in supporting the United Nations,
promoting peace and fulfilling the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Other Global Citizen Awards will be presented to Potential Energy, Berkeley, providing effective stoves for Sudanese and Ethiopian women; the International Accountability Project, Oakland, for protecting rights and livelihoods in Bangladesh and Peru; Prof. Jason Coburn, UC Berkeley, for water and sanitation for Kenyan slum dwellers; and Rose Padilla Johnson of San Leandro for health and other services provided in Guatemala and the East Bay.

Wine Reception and Registration is held at 5:00pm followed by the Dinner and Awards Program from 6:00 to 8:45 pm. Tickets are $40; student discount $20. Celebration Tables which seat 10 are $1,000. Advance reservations are required. Reserve tickets at http://www.undayevent2013.eventbrite.com. For information, questions and table reservations, e-mail undayevent@gmail.com or call 510-642-9461. Wheelchair Accessible.

Herb Behrstock
UNA-USA East Bay Chapter