Eugene, OR – Local stove enterprise StoveTec announced this week that they would become a corporate donor to StoveTeam International, a non-profit organization that brings safe, fuel-efficient and low-emission stoves to communities in Mexico and Central America. Under the new sponsorship, StoveTec—a not-just-for-profit promoter of wood cook stoves developed at Aprovecho Research Center in Cottage Grove—will donate a portion of its domestic for-profit sales to support StoveTeam International.
“Our mission at StoveTec is to deliver clean and efficient cook stoves to the nearly 3 billion people that cook over open fire.” said Andrew McClean, Chief Operations Officer of Aprovecho Research Center—StoveTec’s parent organization. “Instead of starting our own program in Mexico and Central America, we are committed to donating 2% of our gross domestic stove sales to support StoveTeam International’s thriving programs in that region.”
Though separate entities, StoveTec and StoveTeam International share a common mission to solve the worldwide public health crisis caused by smoke inhalation by replacing open cooking fires with safe, efficient cooking stoves. In countries such as Guatemala, diseases caused by smoke inhalation are the leading cause of death among children under the age of five. Worldwide, 1.9 million people will die due to smoke inhalation this year, and 85% of those affected will be women and children. Open fires also cause debilitating burns—especially among toddlers—and many women suffer from hernias caused by gathering heavy firewood.
“When I was in Guatemala, I met a woman whose hands were burned shut by an open fire and unusable for over half her life,” said Nancy Hughes, founder of the Eugene-based StoveTeam International. “I realized that a simple, safe stove could have prevented these devastating burns, and furthermore that we could produce these stoves affordably within the communities in need.”
Nancy returned to Eugene in 2007 and called on a group of skilled volunteers to help her build a stove that would allow women and children to breathe easier while cooking in their homes. Her team developed the Ecocina, an affordable safe cook stove that was tested by Aprovecho Research Center. With the help of her Eugene Southtowne Rotary Club, a flagship factory was funded and built to produce stoves for the large population cooking over open fires. To date, StoveTeam has started seven factories in four countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Each factory is run by a local entrepreneur and provides much needed jobs in the communities they serve.
“We’re honored to have our work recognized by StoveTec, and we’re thankful for their support,” said Hughes of the new partnership. “It has been exciting to see our two organizations, both located in the Willamette Valley, having such a global impact. It is really a simple fix, but we have to do it one stove and one family at a time.”
Factories started by StoveTeam International have collectively produced and sold more than 44,600 stoves, improving the lives of more than 334,000 people in Mexico and Central America.