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Market Watch

Chulha by chulha, Greenway is changing rural India

Bid adieu to mud chulhas
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Bid adieu to mud chulhas
Agencies

Greenway Appliances was setup in 2011 and the idea was to come up with stoves that offered a viable replacement for the traditional mud chulhas, while also taking cognisance of the health hazards posed by the latter. Their first Greenway stove, which promised 65% fuel savings and 70% smoke reduction, came through in 2013.

Neha Juneja, co-founder and CEO of Greenway Appliances says that the thought was to start with the development of a clean biomass burning cookstove that would replace polluting chulhas. "These continue to be the dominant mode of cooking even when the household has an LPG connection, TV and more. We started this company with the mission of developing everyday products that could improve quality of life for the average Indian," she says.

Through the lens of founders
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Through the lens of founders
Default Agency

Known as Greenway Grameen Infra earlier, the founders eventually did away with 'grameen' and rechristened it as Greenway Appliances due to the lack of aspirational value attached with the word 'grameen.' "People asked us why we don't have a different name for the brand. We took that feedback, which helped us have a better brand image and perception," adds Juneja.

Greenway stoves essentially operate on a patented air induction mechanism that ensure cleaner combustion and drastically reduce emissions. A portable stove, touted as a high efficiency cookstove, it works on all solid biomass fuels like wood, dry dung, crop waste or bamboo.

Easy finance
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Easy finance
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However, despite the range of benefits on offer, selling these stoves was a herculean task initially. It was difficult to convince women to buy the product since the price point of Rs 1800 played up as a major deterrent.

Founders started collaborating with micro-finance institutions, banks and facilitated part payments via EMI options for anyone keen to purchase such stoves. In the cases where they could find no institution or bank, they took to developing credit scores on their own. And even though there were apprehensions on repayment, it eventually was a plan that augured well for the founders.

Geographical divide
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Geographical divide
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Juneja recalls several instances where women despite liking the product demo and with an income of their own were unable to convince their family to spend the money.

They had to work around the issue by designing campaigns that also featured the mother-in-law unlike how it would be in the South. "There is greater money in the hands of women in the South and the East. So it is easier to talk to women in southern states and women networks there are strong as well," she adds.

Building the product line-up
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Building the product line-up
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The plan is to up the ante on sales of the stoves while also building on their relatively newer line of products. Their manufacturing facility, overseen by Mathur, is in Baroda with a production capacity of 50,000 stoves in a month. A bigger version of the company's smart stove is the Greenway Jumbo Stove, priced at Rs 3000, which can be taken up by households with bulk cooking demands. Besides this, they are enthusiastic about the Greenway Free TV which is a home satellite system for receiving the channels listed on their website.

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