Adumu Stoves: Spearheading clean cooking revolution

Jeremiah Mabiria

Jeremiah Mabiria and Victor Wanjohi are the founders of Adumu Stoves. The business primarily targets schools seeking clean alternatives to firewood.   

Photo credit: Margaret Maina | Nation Media Group

In the heart of Africa, where traditional cooking methods prevail, the issue of clean cooking is a major concern, with ramifications that extend far beyond the kitchen. The reliance on solid biomass fuels such as wood, charcoal, and dung poses significant challenges to both the environment and human health.

According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 900 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are impacted by this issue, leading to approximately 500,000 fatalities annually due to respiratory ailments caused by indoor air pollution.

Moreover, the World Bank highlights the staggering economic toll, projecting that the negative health effects and environmental damage associated with traditional cooking techniques incur costs exceeding $30 billion (Sh3.8 trillion) each year.

In response to this pressing crisis, innovative solutions like Adumu Stoves have emerged, aiming to provide clean, sustainable, and affordable cooking systems capable of transforming lives and safeguarding the environment.

Adumu Limited pioneers the design and distribution of clean, reliable, and affordable institutional biodiesel stoves for rural and economically challenged institutions. Founded by Jeremiah Mabiria and Victor Wanjohi, this innovative venture is poised to revolutionise institutional cooking systems throughout Africa with clean, biodiesel-powered solutions.

Environmental issues

“We have created a mission-driven company that aims to address urgent environmental issues while supporting community development, thanks to our varied backgrounds and wealth of professional experience," explains Mabiria.

Mabiria, a seasoned manager, entrepreneur, and aviator, brings a wealth of international experience spanning over 15 years to Adumu Stoves. His academic journey, encompassing degrees in history from Canadian Union College and business administration from Excelsior University, is enriched by practical insights gained in North America.

Following nearly two decades abroad, Mabiria returned to Kenya in 2016 with a passionate commitment to utilising his expertise to stimulate commercial growth and provide skills training in his rural community.

Wanjohi, serving as the COO, is a visionary entrepreneur with a Bachelor in aeronautical engineering from the Technical University of Kenya. His extensive experience in aviation has honed his expertise in mechanical equipment, fuels, and internal combustion engines. Wanjohi's technical proficiency plays a crucial role in shaping and executing Adumu's cooking systems, guaranteeing their efficiency and sustainability.

“Adumu Stoves emerged from a collective dedication to renewable energy and a commitment to tackling environmental issues," explains Mabiria. "Our collaboration originated from the Jasiri Talent Investor Program, an initiative by Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies aimed at empowering high-potential individuals to devise solutions for African challenges,” he says, adding that as Simba cohort fellows, they leveraged this platform to align their interests and expertise, drawing on their backgrounds in aviation which afforded them valuable insights into combustion processes.

The innovative concept behind Adumu Stoves lies in adapting biodiesel-burning systems, commonly used in boilers, for large-scale cooking applications in Africa. By addressing the limitations of infrastructure and financial constraints, the founders aimed to make these cutting-edge technologies accessible and affordable.

“We sourced our initial capital from the Jasiri programme, which provided us with Sh300,000 ($3,000) for market research and Sh 1 million($10,000) for the creation of a prototype. This funding facilitated the development and testing of the cooking systems in real-world environments,” he says.

Mabiria emphasises that their primary objective is to develop eco-friendly and sustainable cooking solutions customised for African institutions. These systems utilise biodiesel as a power source, offering a renewable energy option that not only minimises environmental footprint but also proves cost-effective.

The motivation behind this venture is twofold: to provide an affordable alternative to traditional firewood and to contribute to the global fight against climate change by promoting cleaner cooking methods.

“The production of Adumu’s cooking systems involves a painstaking process of sourcing components from various partners. The burning systems are procured from a Swedish production partner, while electronic components and solar systems are sourced from a Chinese partner. Locally, we source stainless steel cladding, plumbing, and fuel tanks,” he says, adding that for biodiesel, Adumu collaborates with local suppliers who produce fuel from cottonseed oil, jatropha, and waste cooking oil.

Adumu Stoves primarily targets schools seeking clean alternatives to firewood. Their product range includes cooking systems with pot sizes varying from 100 liters to 1000 liters, powered by biodiesel. Additionally, these systems incorporate solar panels and batteries for ignition, with the excess electricity generated being utilised for lighting, refrigeration, water pumps, and internet connectivity within the schools.

This holistic approach not only addresses cooking needs but also supports other essential functions of the institutions.

According to Mabiria, penetrating the competitive market of institutional cooking systems requires a strategic and hands-on approach.

“We invested significant time in one-on-one engagements with decision-makers at potential client institutions. Demonstrating the efficacy and benefits of our systems in person helped build trust and credibility. As word spread about the advantages of Adumu’s cooking systems, referrals began to increase, aiding in market penetration, “he says.

The impact of Adumu Stoves extends beyond the confines of the institutions they serve. By providing a clean, sustainable, and affordable cooking solution, they are addressing a critical environmental issue—deforestation caused by the reliance on firewood. This not only helps in preserving tree cover but also reduces carbon emissions and promotes a healthier environment.

While Adumu Stoves has yet to win any formal awards, they have successfully implemented their systems in 10 institutions as part of a nine-month pilot.

“These systems have logged over 6,000 hours of trouble-free operation, a testament to their reliability and effectiveness. Our journey has not been without challenges, including navigating the regulatory landscape and educating potential clients on the benefits of switching to biodiesel-fueled cooking systems,” he says.


Currently, the Adumu stove is available for retail at a price point of Sh160,000. Additionally, they offer a lease model where each stove can be leased for Sh15,000 a month, which includes maintenance services.

“Our partnership with Startup Savanna has been immensely advantageous for our venture. They have played a pivotal role in enhancing our visibility among customers and investors. Furthermore, their mentorship programs and networking opportunities have been instrumental in our growth and development journey,” says Mabiria.

Adumu Stoves has set ambitious goals, over the next five years, the company aims to capture 10 percent of the local market, translating to operations in approximately 10,000 schools across Kenya. To achieve this, they plan to establish a robust manufacturing and assembly line with a production capacity of 3,500 stoves per month.

This expansion is expected to significantly reduce the 1.1 million acres of tree cover used annually for school meals in Kenya, according to the World Resources Institute.

The future looks bright for Adumu Stoves and the clean cooking movement in Africa. With growing awareness of the health and environmental benefits of clean cooking, coupled with advances in technology and increased investment in sustainable development, the company is poised to make an even greater impact in the years to come.

"Our ultimate goal is to create a world where clean cooking is the norm rather than the exception, where Africa has access to affordable and sustainable cooking solutions, making a lasting impact on both the environment and society. We are working toward this as we prepare for a full commercial launch, continue to expand our reach, and scale up our operations," he concludes.