About Us: Blog Archive

PE News

PE Welcomes New Team Members!

We’re excited to welcome Mark Bonney as our newest team member! Mark writes grant proposals and assists the team with fundraising strategy implementation. With diverse experience in international non-profit and social enterprise fundraising, he is passionate about advancing development solutions in the sub-Saharan Africa and MENA regions, particularly in the health, clean energy, housing and microfinance sectors. Mark lived in Egypt from 2009 to 2012, where he helped develop and secure funding for Ashoka Arab World’s housing initiative to improve living conditions in informal communities. He also served as a fundraising advisor and grant writer for several civil society organizations in Cairo. Since returning to the U.S., Mark worked for Kiva as a foundation and corporate grants specialist and for a multi-national online education company as a project manager. Mark holds a B.A. in Political Science from Stanford University. He is also an accomplished classical singer, and enjoys learning languages, outdoor adventures, and playing golf.

Abubakr Mohammad has 8 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector. Abubakr has volunteered, and lead various initiatives and projects with institutes such as the Sudanese Natural Heritage Society, the Sudanese Museum of Natural History and the Sudanese Wildlife Conservation Society. His opportunity to work with nonprofits gave him solid experience in many fields of his interests including: environmental awareness, scientific field work, climate change and impact assessment. Abubakr is leading Potential Energy’s efforts to learn more about potential customers and test the market for the Berkeley-Darfur Stove in new areas of Darfur. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural studies from Sudan University of Sciences and Technology.

In addition to Mark and Abubakr, we recently welcomed Diallo Afadhali and Zelie Anner to PE. Stay tuned for more updates on the Our Team page of our website!

Tô, Pâte and Assidah

By Debra Stein

Greetings from Ouagadougou! I just returned from a visit to Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso’s second largest city, where I was visiting villages with Federico, PE’s Summer Research Fellow assigned to Burkina Faso.  In these villages, we conducted focus groups and “cook-offs,” where women cooked the same meal on our stove, the traditional open fire and a basic metal cookstove that is commonly found in the country. The Berkeley-Darfur Stove was very popular- women liked that their pots fit in the stove and that it stayed stable when they vigorously stirred tô, a thick porridge made of millet.

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Stories from a frontier market

By Federico Bianchi
Potential Energy Summer Research Fellow
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
June 10, 2014

“Bon, on y va!” – “Ok, let’s go!” This is what my collaborator tells me on a Wednesday at 2pm. It is my first Wednesday in Ouagadougou and I have been asking for the whole day to leave the office and go “on the field” (“sur le terrain”, people would say here). I am eager to meet the families that live in the outskirts of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou and to start interviewing them about their cooking habits.

Some minutes later we leave the office. We jump on a motorbike and find our way through the traffic of the city – hard to imagine something more chaotic and scary, at least the first time you find yourself surrounded by a chaos of cars and motorbikes. Motorbikes, in particular, are everywhere. Cars are a bit less but they are not afraid of almost bumping into other vehicles to find their way. It will take me some more time to get used to this way of driving: today, I am just hoping that we will safely reach our destination.

Against all the odds, we arrive at our destination in only 30 minutes and with limited risks for our safety. We are in the so-called “Non-Loti” now. This is the suburb of the city and it keeps growing at an exponential rate. Unfortunately, it has not yet been connected to the electrical and hydraulic network. Families in this area live in conditions similar to rural zones but men and women can find jobs in the central areas of Ouagadougou.

My collaborator quickly identifies the first family that we can interview. Today we are working on defining a “baseline” of the local population in terms of health and cooking habits. We hope to understand whether our cookstoves could be interesting for these customers and if it could bring a meaningful improvement to their life conditions.

I am glad my collaborator is here with me. His name is Hanro and he works for the organization, Entrepreneurs du Monde (EDM). He is part of the “Nafa Naana” project, specialized in selling improved cookstoves and solar lighting devices to families. This organization has been incredibly supportive since I arrived: the fact that I could rely on Hanro for my interviews is only one of the many ways “Nafa Naana” has been helpful over the last days.

Hanro is probably the best person I could have met to get things done. He has experience in interviewing households in the Ouagadougou area and has worked before in the cookstove field. He speaks fluent French and Mooré (the local language). If I had to prepare a wish list for this project in Burkina Faso, meeting somebody like him would have been the top choice.

I follow him while we approach a group of women sitting in a small yard outside a house. The women are talking and laughing but, the moment they see us, they first shut up and then start laughing again: probably they are joking about me. The only word in Mooré they say that I can understand is “Nassarà”, the “White Guy”. Hanro starts answering to their jokes and, in less than 5 minutes, we are ready to start our interview. Some of the women leave the yard and the house owner starts answering our questions.

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Alarming news from the World Health Organization

The WHO has issued a press release estimating that 7 million deaths a year are linked to air pollution exposure.

The new estimates are based on the latest WHO mortality data from 2012 as well as evidence of health risks from air pollution exposures. Estimates of people’s exposure to outdoor air pollution in different parts of the world were formulated through a new global data mapping. This incorporated satellite data, ground-level monitoring measurements and data on pollution emissions from key sources, as well as modelling of how pollution drifts in the air.

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” says Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

Read the full press release at the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

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:

We’re Hiring!

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.

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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.

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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

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