Women at the heart of product development
Local women’s preferences guide stove design
Because Maasai women do all of the cooking, their preferences on how the food cooks and tastes, the type and size of the fuel, and the ways in which the fire must be tended, needed to be incorporated into the International Collaborative design.
We worked closely with the Maasai women to incorporate their opinions, ideas, and preferences. After initial discussions and design feedback from twelve men and women from Monduli Juu we developed a prototype and tested extensively for health impacts and efficiency.
Women employees lead and manage installation of the stoves
While at first, we saw the installation step as a potentially difficult logistical challenge to overcome, we soon realized it was a great opportunity to engage women in the local value chain. This would not only provide additional income, but would also help build their ownership over the product and the market development process.
Today there are approximately 75 women distributors and installers working in seven villages. The women are diverse in age and education level, although most are married. The women installers work in groups of 5 to 10, selected by village women during a community meeting.
Within these groups, the women elect their own leaders and manage the installations. Women are trained over a period of approximately ten days by other Maasai women to install the improved stoves.
Each team leader works with local ICSEE project managers who arrange for the materials to be delivered to the installation sites. If sales need improvement, managers arrange meetings to discuss challenges.