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Technology

Ethanol stoves maker’s app ropes in customers as marketers

Koko Networks
A KOKO Network agent in Kangemi, Nairobi. PHOTO | COURTESY | NMG 

Low income households using KOKO Networks’ ethanol stoves can now earn commissions by marketing the cooker through a new app.

myKOKO allows users to earn up to Sh250 per sale of the special cookers that currently retail at Sh6,200.

Aside from inviting friends to sign up as new customers, the app allows users to view sales progress and share KOKO credit.

“The app offers an income opportunity for those who want to be promoters of this special cooker that uses ethanol; a cleaner and cheaper cooking fuel,” said Koko chief executive Greg Murray. The commission is paid through Safaricom’s M-Pesa upon request by app users.

KOKO Networks has operations in India and East Africa and has since 2017 been piloting ethanol as a cleaner, cheaper cooking fuel among Kenya’s urban poor.

Ethanol is being fronted as the best alternative to charcoal, firewood and kerosene for poor households owing to its safety and affordability.

To use ethanol, homes buy specially designed two-burner cookers with those who can’t afford lump sum pay having the option of paying in instalments. Refuelling is done through special cylinders with a capacity of 2.3 litres. A litre retails at Sh85 and customers can refuel in small quantities of as little as Sh30.

Low income homes

In June last year, Vivo Energy, the retailer of Shell-branded fuel products, entered a deal to supply low-income homes with ethanol cooking fuel.

Through the partnership, Vivo Energy safely refuels KOKO agents selling the liquid ethanol.

The oil dealer, which sources the fuel from both local and global suppliers, also uses small trucks to deliver it to points of sale. A market and policy analysis on scaling up use of clean cooking in Kenya established that charcoal, kerosene and firewood still dominate the market.

While modern clean fuel is now more available, consumer awareness, affordability and accessibility are still key challenges.

LPG penetration has been on an upward trajectory over the recent past but the same has not been the case for bio-ethanol despite having equivalent benefits.

This is because a 25 per cent import tariff and 16 per cent value added tax inflate the cost of bio-ethanol.

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Editor's note

An earlier version of this article (both online and print) incorrectly stated the price of the KOKO cooker. This version now indicates the accurate price of Sh6,200.

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