My name is Okey Esse. I am a 2018 TEF Alumni.
I grew up in a home where one parent was a civil servant and the other a successful entrepreneur, so I had the opportunity to learn from the different worlds, each teaching me very vital lessons that prepared me for life. For instance, I didn’t like the fact that my father could only spend money at specific times of the month: he had to wait for payday while my mother could rise to the occasion whenever the need arose. Watching these two situations constantly play out early in my life, helped me to decide which path I wanted for myself. This led me to try my hands on different ventures before I eventually created Powerstove Energy.
About Powerstove Energy?
600 million African households rely on charcoal, firewood and kerosene for their daily cooking needs and in the last 10 months, the cost of these cooking fuels has gone up by 50% because of increasing urbanization, and deforestation. Also, the lack of efficient cooking stoves has worsened the situation as these families burn more cooking fuels than is necessary over an open fire. The inefficient combustion from these devices makes them emit tons of toxic smoke that kills 600,000 Africans annually.
Powerstove Energy designs, manufactures and distributes a low-cost, smokeless clean cookstove that uses 70% less biomass to cook food 5x faster than any traditional stoves while self-generating 50watts of electricity for the user’s household.
Powerstove is the first clean cookstove with patented built-in self-powered IoT system which allows users to enjoy pay-as-you-cook financing making it possible for poorer families to afford the stove through monthly installment payment. Our devices also allow users to receive funds directly into their mobile money account based on their continued usage of the Powerstove.
In addition, we produce biomass pellets from household, agricultural and wood wastes which cost 80% less than firewood, charcoal and kerosene and cook foods twice longer (without smokes) than any available biomass fuel. Hence saving each user $300 annually.
My TEF Encounter
I have been following TEF since inception primarily because I admire the founder’s business wizardry and being an aspiring entrepreneur myself. When I applied for and got selected into the programme, participating in 12-week training shaped my business thoughts and experience.
In addition to the seed capital I received in 2018, I also got the prize money of $5000 for winning the Founder’s Den Pitching Competition at the 2019 TEF Entrepreneurship Forum in July 2019.
My High Points of TEF Entrepreneurship Forum
I participated in the last TEF Entrepreneurship Forum held in Abuja. The experience was mind-blowing. I never knew such a crowd can be pulled at a single gathering. The high point for me was my participation in Founder’s Den Pitching Competition where I won all the awards for the event.
Overcoming Some Of The Challenges Encountered
As a local manufacturing company, access to funds to expand our production capacity was the biggest headache we faced. To manage this situation, we did two things: redesigned our production line to allow outsourcing parts of the production line to a third party to lower the cost location which led to a significant decrease in production costs. Secondly, we participate in grant competitions to boost our asset financing.
Additional milestones achieved since I became a TEF Alumni
I have experienced numerous milestones since becoming a TEF Alumni. We designed and manufactured Powerstove 4.0, increased our staff strength from 3 to 23, building the biggest biomass pellet factory in Nigeria. In 2019, we started exporting our product to South East Asia. We have also experienced a 30% increase in revenues, a 250% increase in funding and partnerships from London, Bahrain, South Africa, Germany and Saudi Arabia
Impact on our community
I am building products that save lives and also improve the livelihoods of the users. Our business model ensures that poor and low-income earners, especially women are engaged and empowered as last-mile distributors so that they can then lift their families out of poverty.
On the one hand, we aim to grow our export market revenue share to 40% but more importantly, we want to employ 250 people in the next 12 months.
My Personal Mantra
Tenacity is my mantra for survival and what I recommend to any entrepreneur who wishes to succeed in a very challenging business environment like Africa. Entrepreneurs should not be afraid to take risks and to fail sometimes. They must also focus on the vision at all times particularly in the face of the challenges that are sure to come.