The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s Development Finance Institution, yesterday announced a $4 million financing commitment to Envirofit International, a social enterprise that innovates smart energy products to improve lives on a global scale.
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed themselves and their families.
OPIC financing will support the commercial expansion of Envirofit’s business operations to provide their cutting edge, high quality, low cost, clean cookstove technology across the world. “We are excited about the partnership with OPIC and their commitment to support Envirofit with the necessary capital to grow our business in Africa, Asia, and Latin America,” said Ron Bills, CEO of Envirofit.
“Envirofit presents exceptional potential for high-impact development progress for low-income people around the world,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s President and CEO. “With this new growth capital from OPIC, we’re looking forward to helping them realize their goals to create healthier, cleaner homes across developing regions.”
Nearly half the world’s population still uses open fires or rudimentary stoves for home cooking. Emitting the equivalent smoke of 400 cigarettes per hour, these stoves are a source of harmful household air pollution and have been cited as one of the world’s greatest health risks. In addition, open fire cooking contributes to 25% of global black carbon emission and can consume up to 25% of household expenses for people living in energy poverty.
In 2003, Envirofit focused on changing the way energy products were developed for people living in energy poverty. Using a market-based approach, Envirofit developed a global product line of smart, clean cookstoves that cook faster while reducing fuel use, smoke, and toxic emissions. In 2007 Envirofit formed a long-term partnership with Shell Foundation - an independent charity who provided them with grant funding and extensive business support.
This helped the company grow from a one-product business to a global organization serving over 5 million people, with over a dozen user-designed products.
OPIC had last year committed to different projects to support the creation of 20,000 jobs in Africa and beyond. Some of the projects includes
Support for subsistence farmers in Africa.
Expanding access to financial services in Ghana.
Introducing franchise restaurants in Mongolia.
Support for private equity investments in African agriculture.