ACE Energy Shops

An Environment project Smeeton Westerby

To supply affordable clean energy products to low-income households in Kenya

New stretch target

Any funds raised above our target of £15,000 will be used to develop our very own ‘Solar Showers’ from the waste plastic abundantly available throughout Naivasha. Happy campers among you will be familiar with the concept: solar showers are durable, dark plastic ‘bladders’ fitted with a hose and shower head, designed to provide hot water away from conventional sources of power. Very few people in Kenya can afford expensive water boilers (heating water is another very common use of wood fuels); these simple products heat up water at no cost to the user and can be relied upon for showering and doing the dishes after just a few hour’s exposure to Kenya’s plentiful sunshine.

Hello and welcome to our crowd funder!

We are excited to announce that ACE (Agriculture, Conservation, Energy) has recently launched a brand new and much-needed service: providing a range of affordable clean energy products for low-income households in Kenya through our innovative ‘ACE Energy Shops’. The pilot stage has proven to be enormously successful, now we need your support to see it grow!

Enticing rewards are on offer in return for your generous pledges of support: from creative seed paper postcards and beautiful hand-made Kenyan handcrafts, weekend getaways to some of Kenya's best-kept secrets, all the way up to having a shop named after you - there’s even some return airfares to Nairobi available, giving you the chance to visit the project and experience first-hand the impact of your pledge!

Here's the problem:

The vast majority of people living in East Africa still depend on charcoal and firewood for their cooking needs. Firewood especially poses serious risks to human health in the form of respiratory diseases caused by inhaling smoke. Demand for charcoal in Kenya is now more than double the sustainable supply and becoming totally unaffordable for cash-strapped families. The illegal procurement of wood fuels is diminishing Africa’s precious forests at an alarming rate; tree cover in Kenya now stands at just 5% of the total land area. Each one of these problems needs addressing, and urgently.

The town of Naivasha, in Kenya's Rift Valley, is a case in point. Several hundred thousand people now live here, attracted by the prospect of finding employment in the region's flourishing flower farms. Large areas of bush have been cleared to make way for informal settlements; living conditions are difficult, with families of 4-5 people typically occupying small, cramped dwellings. Most people live hand-to-mouth; with limited cash to spare, they tend to buy just the little fuel they can afford that day, more often than not cooking indoors, where they expose themselves and their children to the noxious smoke.

Here's the solution:

We believe in offering all communities access to clean and affordable energy. The aim of this project is to significantly reduce people’s reliance on smoky wood fuels by providing cheaper, cleaner alternatives in places where they are currently unavailable - saving people time and money, improving their family's health and helping to protect regional forests. As a first step towards achieving this goal, we successfully established Kenya's very first ACE Energy Shop in the settlement of Karagita, Naivasha, earlier this year, partnering with Premier gas to supply their ground-breaking, smokeless 'Pima gas' cooking stoves.

Pima stoves are a genuine innovation, providing high quality, clean-burning LPG within compact, partially refillable cylinders (the concept will be familiar to many of you as portable ‘camping gas’ style stoves - perfect for the Naivasha environment). Offering LPG at an affordable price in the heart of the community presents a safer, cleaner and forest-friendly alternative to firewood and charcoal for an, as yet, woefully underserved demographic. But this is just the beginning!

How you can help:

The pilot shop in Karagita has already attracted a large customer base of several hundred households and has proven to be a real success in just a short amount of time; together we have poured all of our efforts into establishing what is fast becoming the finest and most sought-after energy service in the region - but now we need your help to continue the good work!

We're asking for your support to help raise the £15,000 required to set up 5 more Energy Shops in the small, densely populated settlements surrounding Naivasha, such that the benefits felt by users of our pilot project can be rolled out to a wider and much larger community.

Our target is that each Energy Shop serves 800 households within its first year. With 5 new shops, we could provide alternative fuels to some 4,000 families (that's over 20,000 people), saving 120 acres of forest each year - not to mention a shed-load of household income and, critically, countless lives needlessly lost to diseases caused by indoor smoke pollution.

Your pledge will go directly towards the building and operating costs of each new shop, the provision of further Pima gas stoves and 2 more innovative energy products as outlined below:

Sustainable charcoal

Recognising that not everybody will convert to LPG immediately, we are in the process of developing environmentally sustainable carbonised ‘briquettes’ (compact pellets, similar to barbecue fuel sold in Europe and the U.S.) using a local agricultural waste product. This waste is the leftover rose stems that are grown here in Naivasha for international export, more likely than not bought by you for your loved ones! Converting this abundantly available biomass into briquettes provides an ecologically sound, cheaper alternative to charcoal and firewood that will save hundreds of acres of forests from being destroyed each year. We are also developing a more fuel efficient jiko (cookstove) in partnership with local artisans to be offered alongside the briquettes, meaning less fuel is required for the same amount of cooking, win-win!

Solar power

Kenya receives a lot of is sunshine, the best source of energy there is. We'll also use your pledge to supply affordable solar kits (panels, batteries, lights) to provide instant lighting and power at no cost for low income households. Solar power is one of the best alternative options in places like Naivasha, where, when the sun goes down at 7 pm each night, almost everyone is left in the dark. Children are often the most affected by this, resorting to doing their homework by the dim light of smelly kerosene burners. These solar kits include multipurpose charging ports, allowing mobile phones, torches, radios and any number of USB devices to be recharged from the sun's rays. We've already engaged local suppliers HASHI and look forward to being able to offer these brilliant gadgets alongside our other innovative products in our ACE Energy Shops.

Why support ACE?

Unlike donating to a large organisation with scary overheads, hundreds of staff to pay and enormous running costs to be met, by supporting ACE's small, highly committed team of local experts you can be sure that your gift will be spent precisely where it is needed - and on just the right things. 

Thank you for reading and - we hope - for your generous support as well!

Please keep an eye on to find out exactly how your pledge is improving people’s livelihoods in Kenya. You can also visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.