30 Jun 2016
Social enterprise African Clean Energy receives €300,000 loan. The BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt supports the Lesotho- and Netherlands-based enterprise African Clean Energy (ACE) that aims to fight toxic fumes and high CO2 emissions from cooking - part of daily life in many developing countries.
To this end, ACE has developed a special cookstove: Weighing ten pounds (4.6 kilograms) and costing US$100, the stove burns biomass at such high temperatures that emissions are drastically reduced. This is urgently needed in many developing and emerging countries. According to the United Nations, more than four million people, women and children especially, die every year because they are cooking on open fire in their houses and huts and are thus constantly exposed to the toxic smoke.
Moreover, the use of the cookstoves has a positive effect on the environment: "The environmental impact of our stoves can be seen on three levels. Globally they could substantially reduce the 18% of all global greenhouse gases attributed to traditional biomass fuels. More locally they'd cut air pollution in cities and towns, and their impact on deforestation could preserve many of the forests and tree cover we stand to unnecessarily lose at the current trajectory," says Ruben Walker, founder of African Clean Energy.
ACE's cookstoves differ from competitors' products: A solar module charges a built-in battery. This battery powers a ventilator that supplies additional oxygen, leading to a higher combustion temperature. In addition, the stove also features a USB port that can be used to charge a cell phone or connect an LED lamp.
"Through our investment, we want to enable ACE to grow and thus to improve the health of many people. At the same time, we hope that this kind of support also opens doors to other private and institutional investors for this innovative company," says Markus Hipp, member of the board of directors of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, to explain the Foundation's investment in ACE.
The BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt's widening focus on impact investing is explained by Carl-August von Kospoth, member of the board of the BMW Foundation: "Every investment has an impact, and if foundations, through smart investments, can have a double impact - for themselves and for others -, then why shouldn't they do it?"
The company African Clean Energy was founded in 2011 by father and son Stephen and Ruben Walker in Lesotho and now has its head office in the Netherlands. Stephen Walker has 28 years of corporate experience (Philips), including 15 years as plant manager of the company's factory in Maseru, Lesotho. His son Ruben studied environmental engineering at Monash University (Melbourne) and is responsible for business development, funding, and public relations. The stoves are made primarily in Lesotho, where the business employs approx. 40 people under fair conditions. Over 40,000 stoves have been sold to date, many of them financed through microloans.
In March 2016, the two corporate foundations of BMW, the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt and the Eberhard von Kuenheim Foundation, consolidated to pool their strengths and resources, including in the field of impact investing. It is the goal fo the BMW Foundation to refine impact investing as part of its own investment strategy and to and to make impact investing a fixture of the German foundation sector. At the heart of the varied activities of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt is the idea of "Responsible Leadership." By this we mean both an understanding of the social whole and individual responsibility to contribute to a cooperative and sustainable world. We are convinced that this responsibility can best be realized and lived in dialogue and partnership with people from other cultures, sectors, and backgrounds.
If you have any further questions, please contact:
Senior Manager Communications and Media
+49 151 60303538
BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt
Reinhardtstraße 58 10117 Berlin
African Clean Energy
+31 6 3383 1208