The adage ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ has played out well in Rose Twine’s life. Twine had the will to become self-employed, and her life has turned out that way.
See, she is the brains behind, and CEO of, Eco Group Limited, an organization that produces eco-friendly stoves that use special stones for fuel. The stones, with a special capacity to produce and retain heat, are usable up to eight hours non-stop and can be topped up after two years since they eventually shrink.
They come in packages of three kilogrammes each. Mined in Goma, DR Congo, the stones have been tested and certified by Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI).
The stove is mainly dark green, made up of galvanised metal sheets, a fan, clay liner, insulation pumice and vermiculite (a type of mineral) and a solar kit. In order to increase its combustion, the stove has been adapted with an inbuilt air system that runs on solar, which introduces forced air to the stones.
The solar is used to circulate the air, regulate the heat output and eventually switch off after the cooking.
Three sizes, three uses
The stoves are fixed with a solar system that performs all its designed roles. They come in three sizes; a single burner (ES10), double burner (ED18) and an oven style size (EO30). The stove cooks, lights two bulbs and charges up to 10 phones, including smart phones.
“I did not only want a stove to cook, but one that can solve other day-to-day problems,” says Twine.
The stoves are smoke-free and the ever-increasing cost of charcoal plus a host of environmental, social, health and technological benefits make them the better option.
“The stoves help in waste management because waste is used in making briquettes which are used as fire starters and reduce challenges of fire ignition in grass-thatched houses,” says the tall, fair-skinned belle.
They can be accessed from the Eco Group Ltd head office located on Mbuubi road in Mengo.
While growing up, Twine was inspired by her hard-working entrepreneur father. After completing S.6 at Uganda Martyrs SS Namugongo in 1994, she moved to the UK, where she worked in the environmental department of the London Borough of Haringey as a researcher.
“Growing up, I saw people suffering with firewood and smoke because there was no solution. In the UK, it was rare to see someone using firewood,” she says.
“In my house, there is a fireplace that heats up the house. I thought to myself that if it can be able to do this, then stones can also be used for cooking,” Twine recalls the eco stove’s inception.
Her passion for research would come into play and, together with a team of engineers, technicians and designers, they developed the first prototype. Finally, in June 2010, the first usable stove was made. From then, the business has grown leaps and bounds.
“The eco stove will not only save its users lots of cooking fuel cost today, it will also leave a legacy for improving people’s lives, encouraging low-carbon living and a restored environment for the future generations if adopted,” says Twine, who is proud of her brainchild.
Like any other business, Twine faced some hitches while starting out with the eco stoves. Initially, it was and still is difficult to convince people to adopt the stove and save costs.
“Getting them to appreciate that it is not about the money but a host of other long-term benefits is hard,” Twine says.
Twine envisions making eco stoves a household product for everyone. As a result, she hopes to establish Eco Group Ltd shops or branches throughout Uganda.
Twine’s eco stoves have garnered crosscutting recognition across the country, especially in the energy sector, and bred a huge clientele, including cathedrals, schools, some ministers and corporate companies.
“When we go for display shows, many people tell us that they have always wanted something like this and this is evident in the autographs that have been signed,” Twine says.
Eco Group Limited has also won contracts to supply to different people because of the product’s desirability. Moreover, the organization has boosted its research and development because efforts are underway to develop three other stove models that are more energy-saving and cost-effective.
Her cause, hobbies
Obviously, she believes in protecting the environment.
“If I pass a truck of charcoal, I actually get mad. If only people felt the pain I [felt], then they wouldn’t be cutting down trees. But because there are limited options of fuel, one cannot blame them,” Twine says of her frustration.
Twine delights in mentoring people and is currently mentoring her employees and her favourite pastime activity is research.
“I had to force myself to sleep last night because I stayed up late doing research,” she says.
Twine says her eco stove unit comprising the stove, stones to last two years and 10 phone-charging pins costs Shs 300,000 and above, depending on whether it also has an oven.