From farmer to innovator: meet Nanias Bwande

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Nanias Bwande is a busy entrepreneur, farmer and eco-pioneer in Malawi. Discerning and enterprising, he knows how to make the most of a business opportunity when he spots one.

Like many others in his village, Nanias attended UP’s training programme where he learnt how to produce and sell fuel-efficient cook-stoves. At first, he was concerned that the training would cause him to neglect his maize farm. He already made a small supplementary income by selling pumpkin leaves, but he recognised the potential for much greater profit through the cook-stove project.

His decision to attend the training programme and set up a cook-stoves business has paid dividends. The extra revenue he earns from selling cook-stoves has allowed him to invest in building his house and purchasing more fertiliser for his crops. He is also able to provide breakfast and new school clothes for his three children – and now they can attend school every day.

Like his neighbours, Nanias also uses the stove at home. Its efficiency means that his family spends much less time collecting fuel and fewer trees are being chopped down. “Instead of cutting down 10 trees per month, now we are only using three and have plenty of time for other things,” he says.

Nanias now has ambitions to develop even more sustainable energy initiatives for his community.

“Through the stove business we’re reaching out to many people – we are bringing the town to the village,” he says. "The nearest electricity lines are very far from here, so my next plan is to install solar power when I finish building my house.”