Providing access to affordable and clean cooking energy by turning waste into fuel with a women-run production of agro-waste charcoal and energy-saving stoves

Betty Ikalany

In her early career as a social worker, Betty saw the hardship faced by the low income women in her community due to the scarcity of clean fuels. Culturally responsible for cooking food, women and girls are at risk of sexual assaults as they walk long distances searching for firewood in the bushes. Betty saw many girls dropping out of school as they lagged behind. The use of firewood contributes to the escalating deforestation and respiratory problems from indoor smoke pollution. At the same time, the rural agricultural based communities also produce a large amount of agro-waste that has to be dealt with.


Betty took part in SE Forum’s SE Outreach Accelerator in 2015.




Driven by the mission to increase access to clean energy, in 2012 Betty founded Appropriate Energy Saving Technologies Limited (AEST), a women-run business that produces biomass charcoal briquettes from local agro-waste such as groundnut husks and corn cobs. Betty found that AEST must also produce affordable and more energy-efficient cooking stoves to allow her customers to convert from traditional firewood to agro-briquettes. Betty is now selling to local households and also supplying schools and orphanages with her products. AEST’s stoves coupled with agro-waste charcoal vastly improved fuel efficiency and emission and are receiving technical supported by the MIT’s D-lab.