26-year old Nigerian inventor Max Chinnah has developed a smokeless stove that can charge cell phones while it cooks. Chinnah says that he plans to send 1,000 of these stoves to farmers in rural Kenyan who have limited access to electricity.
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Chinnah formed a company called Terraoak with his business partner Attigah, and has hopes to step up production to distribute the devices globally. He came up with the idea when thinking of different ways that he could improve the world with an invention, and this was one of the best ideas that he came up with.
“I didn’t really want to just create an app that didn’t add value. So I started to think about the things that are really important to me. I’ve always been intrigued by the issue of climate change, and how can we push back against that and leave a better planet for our grandkids,” Chinnah said.
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The smokeless stove idea was on his mind because his grandmother died from complications related to breathing air polluted by cookstoves over many years. This is actually a very common problem in many parts of the world, who fill their houses with smoke and fumes all day in the process of cooking their meals.
“For us, you know, we’ve lived through this, it’s very real and very personal to us, so that’s number one. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to convince anyone with any sense that we need to do something about climate change. If you get out of your bubble you can see the effects of climate change in our world,” he said.
The stove won a $10,000 innovation prize at Yale University’s Global Health Innovation Conference in 2016, which allowed the company to further develop their invention.
They also received seed funding from a local philanthropic organization called Red Cedar, which was formed to invest in startups and entrepreneurs that show potential but lack the resources to make their vision a reality. The company is also planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the item in the coming months.