What is LivelyHoods, and how has the organization contributed to the growth of the clean cooking sector?

LivelyHoods was founded in 2011 to tackle chronic unemployment among youth and women in urban slums in Kenya. From the very beginning, we focused on clean energy distribution as a way to create jobs and income for vulnerable youth and women. Since then, we've distributed more than 37,000 clean cooking products, and have been an important partner to the main clean cookstove actors in Kenya as a distributor of innovative products. We've seen many fantastic products emerge but they often have difficulty reaching the market. Our network of trained youth and women has an incomparable reach in low-income, informal settlements and in reaching the urban last-mile. We are not only distributing products but also information through peer-to-peer, door-to-door marketing. This can help to influence later decisions or purchases and raise awareness about the impact of inefficient cooking methods. We have reached more than 1 million people with our behaviour change approaches.


What is the impact of energy poverty in the context of gender equality, youth employment, and women’s empowerment?

In all aspects of energy poverty, women are the most affected but also the most important factor for change. This is why we focus on women, both on the distribution side and on the consumer side.

Women are the primary cooks and fuel collectors of the household, resulting in poor and inefficient energy products having a huge impact on their health and wellbeing. They are therefore our primary market for the cookstoves that we sell and, to this end, we also focus on training women as sales agents as we believe that women are best placed to sell to other women. 

Youth from slums in Kenya face a lot of discrimination and find it very difficult to enter the job market, especially the formal sector. They all want to be entrepreneurs but struggle to get capital. By giving them clean cookstoves for free on consignment to sell and make money, we are overcoming those barriers and giving them the chance to bring positive change to their communities. 


What successes and challenges do you see for the clean cooking sector in the years ahead? 

Clean cooking is a rapidly evolving sector so we foresee many new and exciting opportunities in terms of products, awareness raising, and mindset shifts around the world. We're lucky to have the support of a global network like the Clean Cooking Alliance to help coordinate some of these efforts such as documenting and sharing learnings and providing financial support for some of the riskier and more innovative ventures. 

The big challenge is foreseeing natural or political obstacles that pop up. Legislation, natural disasters, and climate change can have a huge impact on any market-based activities, and clean cooking is no exception. And because many of the organizations doing great work to promote clean cooking are non-profit, or almost purely focused on clean cooking, their very existence can be jeopardized by significant external events. We look to the Alliance to be the warning system and also the first line of defense faced with such challenges. 


To learn more about LivelyHoods, visit their website at www.livelyhoods.org

For more information about LivelyHood's work with women entrepreneurs in the energy sector, click here to view a case study titled "Where Are the Women in the Energy Sector?"