Not all kitchens across India use cooking gas, but traditional a chulha that poses a number of health hazards, from indoor pollution to fatal accidents. To provide an alternative cooking device that will reduce the threats, Neha Juneja and Ankit Mathur co-founded what Neha calls a “healthier alternative”. Their venture Greenway Grameen Infra will design, manufacture and market efficient cooking appliances for the rural populace.
After earning her MBA from FMS, Delhi, Neha did her BE in Production & Industrial Engineering. With a grounding in product design, Neha wanted to apply her skills in resolving this grave concern. However, prior to Greenway Appliances, she had been working in the socio-environmental sector organising “community-led projects, and need-analysis consulting in a wide array of areas including agroforestry, primary energy supply, and water access across rural India”. So, her involvement in this sector was not sudden but studied well over a period of time.
As she discovered that one of the health, as well as environmental deterrents, was the old-fashioned chulha, she knew she had to change it. “When we first saw first-hand how two-thirds of India cooks, it was quite a shock. While progress could be seen in many aspects of rural life, cooking still remained archaic for a variety of reasons”. She said ruing the fact that it takes “only a technological intervention” to fix the gap.
Neha and Ankit set out to understand the breadth of the problem and travelled extensively, for about nine months, figuring out what the target audience really want and how they can make the best solution without affecting the lifestyle of the people. Hence, she developed ten different prototypes and tested those in five pre-identified States as well as sought feedback from the local women to review and analyse the functionality of the products. Thus, she came up with the first version of an energy efficient stove, the Smart Stove.
Greenway now offers two different products, the Smart stove and the Jumbo Stove. Since the pricing is between INR 1800 TO 3000, Neha has partnered with microfinance institutions to help the rural poor afford the appliances at a low monthly instalment.
With her unique contribution in an area shockingly ignored so far, Neha’s intervention promises some great changes. No wonder, her endeavours have been recognised across the globe and now the winner of many honours and accolades is looking forward to taking her Greenway to Nepal, Afghanistan and Mexico.
Image credit: Anita Dongre Grassroot