What I Do

I realized that after 6 months of working in Africa, people may not know exactly what I’m doing so let me explain.  I work for a company here called The Paradigm Project.  We’re basically a distributor of socially, economically, and environmentally beneficial products in Kenya.  Right now our main products are two household cookstoves that reduce the amount of wood used to cook a meal.  Because they use less wood, women have to spend less money and time purchasing or collecting fuel, they don’t breathe in as much toxic smoke, and we save the environment by cutting down less trees 🙂  And because we reduce the amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere by not burning as much wood, we receive what are called carbon credits.  Our project is registered with the voluntary carbon market so we sell the carbon credits to companies that want to look environmentally friendly, be carbon neutral, have some extra cash to give away, etc.

At the Paradigm Project I am a business development associate.  What exactly does that mean?  Basically it means that I do whatever they need me to do and every day looks a little different (except the last two weeks because I’ve been writing reports) 😦  Towards the beginning of my time here I traveled for 7 weeks around East Africa doing stove research and surveys.  I learned a ton about cooking habits, fuel use and my company’s stoves over that time and it was a great chance to travel around the region.  After that, I’ve been attending sales meetings, setting up a text registration system for stove warranties, and looking into developing a water filtration business to add to our existing line of products.  It’s been a really interesting, sometimes frustrating and overall challenging position.

The water filter project is what I’ve been most excited about recently.  It could be a great opportunity to provide a beneficial product, give me sales experience/autonomy and have the guidance of some really good mentors throughout the process.  Currently, only half of Kenyan households have access to improved sources of drinking water.  The other half is still drinking water every day that could make them sick.  Many others drink clean water only because they boil it every day, burning significant quantities of wood, polluting the environment and causing further deforestation.  My hope is to sell these filters to provide cleaner water, a more sustainable environment and a high quality product to people who have never had the privilege of drinking clean water.  I hope that explains a little bit more about what I do and the impact my company is trying to have.

The Jikopoa (cool stove), our locally produced wood stove

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