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2015-02-24

Renewable energy startup Greenway sets up India's largest biomass cook-stove factory in Gujarat

Greenway\'s aim is to replace mud stoves leading negative health and environmental impacts and achieve greater scale.

Greenway Grameen Infra, an incubatee company of IIM Ahmadabad's Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), has set up India's largest manufacturing unit for biomass cook stoves in Vadodara, Gujarat.

Greenway is a product design and distribution startup that aims to serve rural India through quality-of-life-enhancing home-appliances and has already sold over 250,000 cook stoves. With a capacity to manufacture 8 lakh units per annum, their aim is to replace the usage of traditional mud stoves (chulhas) that are known for grave negative health and environmental impacts and achieve greater scale.

Founded in early 2011 by Ankit Mathur and Neha Juneja, MBA graduates from IIM Ahmadabad and FMS Delhi, Greenway Grameen Infra aims to be the brand of choice in home energy appliances. "Lack of access to modern fuels forces rural consumers to rely on burning solid biomass (mostly wood & cow dung) in traditional mud cook stoves that emit dangerous and uncomfortable smoke. Our products provide a fuel efficient, smoke-reducing, affordable alternative," said Neha Juneja, Co-founder, Greenway.

"Our flagship product, the Greenway Smart Stove, is a high-efficiency cook stove that burns all biomass fuels (wood, cow-dung, etc.) while reducing smoke by 70 per cent, fuel use by 65 per cent and GHG emissions by 1.5 tons/year. The USP of these stoves is that they are durable, without moving parts, and are portable. Greenway is looking at growth beyond India and enter developing countries to offer its products and the promise of 'better products, better living," said Juneja.

"Till recently we used to get these cook stoves manufactured by a local vendor. The Government's commitment to "Make in India" and renewable sources of energy, was a key decision-making criterion for us to initiate our own plant for manufacturing these," Juneja added further.

The stoves are also certified by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India. Having bagged many awards for their unique design and affordable product, Greenway was one of the two Indian companies to have won the prestigious Ashden Clean Energy for Women and Girls Award at the International Ashden Awards 2014. "With this new manufacturing capacity, we shall now be able to achieve economies of scale and produce more efficiently and hope to be able to pass on the benefits to the end customers through lower prices", she added.

Greenway received its seed funding from CIIE. Talking more about investing in Greenway, Vipul Patel, Associate Vice President at CIIE said, "Not many startups are coming up with innovative appliances that cater to the rural market have their own manufacturing base. However, having one has its advantages. It reduces vendor dependency, helps to have better control on quality, and lowers costs effectively. As investors, we are happy to see such companies setting up their manufacturing units in India and contributing towards the Government's 'Make in India' initiative." Incidentally, Greenway chose Gujarat to set-up its manufacturing plant.

"While we are headquartered in Mumbai and most of our customers are in the southern states, we felt that Gujarat offered a very conducive environment for new businesses," added Ankit Mathur, Co-founder, Greenway, who has been leading setting up of the new plant.

"Cooking with biomass fuels on traditional mud stoves has been the number one health risk in India and even worse, they contribute to 25 per cent of the global black carbon emissions. This cooking method is also inconvenient and arduous, requiring mostly female users to spend an average of 5 hours a day in a smoke-filled kitchen, constantly tending the flames. Yet there is an acute lack of products designed for these users, and for rural consumers in general. Greenway saw that need and decided to address it by combining technological innovation & user co-creation to solve energy issues facing rural consumers," said juneja.

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