Currently 3 billion people worldwide cook on open fire, and the illnesses caused by smoke inhalation have claimed the lives of over 4 million people – more than HIV/AIDS and Malaria combined*. Stephen and Ruben Walker, a father and son team, saw first hand the damaging effects in South Africa’s poorest communities and sought to put an end to it. In 2011 they launched African Clean Energy, a family business committed to eradicating the catastrophic impact that traditional cooking methods inflict on health, environment and poverty.
Ruben returned to the Netherlands with the mission of developing new markets for the company and its flagship product, the ACE 1 Ultra-Clean Biomass Cookstove. Developed in Africa, the stove burns biomass without smoke, immediately eliminating the dangerous health and environmental effects of indoor cook smoke. Upon his return he began working on expanding his network and business, but faced a dilemma many entrepreneurs have dealt with in the past: isolation. To counter this, a friend referred Ruben to the Impact Hub in Amsterdam where he thought it might be a good fit. Turns out he was exactly right.
Ruben joined Impact Hub Amsterdam back in April of 2013 and has used the networking opportunities offered by the Impact Hub community to help grow his company. Recently, he was able to recruit a team of interns who have assisted him to greatly expand the development of the company. When it came to outreach and funding, Karim Maarek (Teach to Fish), another member of the Impact Hub, heard of Ruben’s project and inspired, offered to help Ruben launch a Crowdfunding campaign. This partnership motivated a larger network as more people came to join the campaign. Impact Hub members locally and internationally reached out to lend a helping hand, resulting in a collaborative ecosystem of impact-driven individuals.
When asked what drove him to become involved with the Impact Hub, Ruben answered, “The downside of early entrepreneurship is being by yourself… Impact Hub is a great place to meet like-minded people…everyone is entrepreneurial, socially engaged and ready to hear your [story] because they’re in similar positions. It’s much more than just a shared space”
As we say, the beautiful thing about impact is that it cannot happen in isolation. It requires collaborative action. Through the Impact Hub a group of people from all over the world were able to come together for one common goal. In a team of over 20 people, what started as one man’s mission has developed into a global team effort.
And now, with your support for our Kickstarter campaign we can keep the momentum growing. You can do this by sharing our message here and getting us connected to people you know. This is your chance to be a part of something big, join us and become a part of the cooking revolution.
Do you have inquiries about the crowdfunding campaign or would you like to lend a helping hand? Please email Karim Maarek at email@example.com.
If you have inquiries about the ACE 1 and African Clean Energy, please email Ruben Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* World Health Organization, 2014.