Ron Bills

Organization: 
Envirofit
Country: 
USA

Envirofit innovates and sells smart clean cookstoves that enable families to live smarter and save money, while reducing climate change, and creating new economic opportunities.
 
 
Focus: Clean Energy, Environmental Sustainability, Gender Parity
Geographic Area of Impact: Kenya, India, Nigeria, Honduras, and Mexico; Africa, India, and Latin America
Model: Social Innovation Business
Number of DirecBeneficiaries:  1,000,000 households (cumulative)
Annual Budget: USD $20,042,289 (2015)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 98%
 
The Social Problem
Every day women, standing alongside their babies and young children, labor over homemade stoves while they cook for their families. Unable to afford LPG fuels, women who use traditional cookstoves spend up to 25 hours a week breathing in harmful emissions - the equivalent of smoking 2 packs of cigarettes. Exposure to these toxic emissions leads to the deaths of 4.3 million people around the globe - more than HIV, Malaria, and TB combined. In addition, those who cook with charcoal and buy fuel can spend up to a 1/3rd of their annual household income to purchase charcoal wasting valuable resources on cooking fuel.
 
Innovation and Activities
Envirofit was founded on the idea that enterprise principles can transform the development of household and commercial energy technologies for people living in energy poverty. In 2003, Envirofit set out to change the way energy products were developed for people living in energy poverty. With a goal of improving harmful traditional cooking methods, Envirofit innovated a product line of aesthetic, high performance cookstoves tailored to the needs of customers in emerging markets. Years of consumer research and product development proved that people who lack access to electricity and clean cooking solutions do desire and will buy high quality products that will improve their lives.
 
Envirofit’s stoves reduce smoke and toxic emissions up to 80%, cook 50% faster, and reduce fuel use up to 60%. Unimproved cookstoves can waste up to 90% of the fuel’s energy. Envirofit stoves are designed to improve the combustion process with better oxygen flow so more of the biomass energy is converted into heat as opposed harmful emissions. This process enables people to cook faster with less fuel. Envirofit has spent over 10 years conducting laboratory and market research to design culturally appropriate cooking solutions that are both durable and affordable. They also feature patented alloys that are resistant to high temperatures, which increase the lifespan of the stove.
 
Using a market-based approach, Envirofit has built a scalable business that delivers stoves that are adoptable, affordable, and accessible to the most remote regions of the world. has a robust marketing and sales model that includes a warranty for its products. Envirofit partners with last mile entrepreneurs, local businesses and international distributors to scale access to clean cooking technology in both urban and rural markets. Today, Envirofit has grown from a business with one product, to a global company serving over 5 million people, with over a dozen user-designed products, and regional headquarters in East Africa, West Africa, Asia, and Latin America that offer the local production and distribution of clean cookstoves that have reduced CO2 emissions by 17 million tons. In the aggregate, they have saved their customers USD  $138 million in fuel costs.
 
The Entrepreneur
Ron Bills combines his business acumen from the consumer industry with visionary thinking in the social enterprise sector. Prior to Envirofit, Ron Bills was CEO of Segway and led business units at Polaris Industries and Yamaha Motor Corporation. He began as an engineer with Martin Marietta Aerospace and brought industry-defining technology to the global marketplace that garnered Envirofit awards such as the  2015 Green Good Design Award for Product Design and the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Special Achievement Award in 2011.