Eoin Flinn came to Kenya three years ago armed with nothing but passion to reduce energy costs in Africa. Today, Flinn boasts of establishing from scratch the multi-million shillings Burn Manufacturing Company, which makes eco-friendly jikos. He started off with only Sh300,000 as capital.
The firm stands on a 18,000 square feet piece of land in Ruiru estate, Kiambu County. Flinn and his wife first rented a vacant room at industrial area. Three years down the line, Flinn, the General Manager of the company is manufacturing a modern charcoal jiko dubbed jikokoa (A Swahili combination of two words meaning saving energy).
“We have employed over 100 staff at Burn Company and our aim is to manufacture over 3.7 million cooking stoves in the next ten years,” emphasises Flinn. Jikokoa uses less than half the regular charcoal to operate compared to the ordinary charcoal stoves and produces less smoke and ash.
Compared to the other ordinary jikos, a consumer is able to save up to 50 percent of fuel costs. “It has a high temperature, lightweight ceramic insulation designed to withstand 1,300 degree celsius, which keeps your jiko cool to the touch.
A high durability chrome grate has also been fixed to balance air mixture and for the purpose of cleanliness, we have successfully incorporated a removable ashtray that keeps the jiko clean and controls cooking temperature,” explains the Irishman. An electric engineer by profession, Flinn sells Jikokoa through a door-to-door marketing campaign as well as supermarkets.
He has also been exporting the jikos to prestigious supermarkets and malls abroad. Crediting the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Scott who is based in United States of America for the company’s success, the father of one says that he believes in local manufacturing and involvement of the consumers in coming up with a product.
He makes it clear that Jikokoa is designed in the United States and manufactured in the country. “It is possible to do manufacturing in Africa, there are readily available raw materials. It is only that we are lazy and think that China is the only source of getting refined products,” articulates Flinn who oversaw new product development for Molex ICM Products in China.
In the three years he worked at the firm it grew from zero profits to over Sh900 million in three years. Jikokoa comes in different designs and sizes. To take it closer to people, a partnership he has forged with several financial and loan lending organisations such as Equity Bank, M-Kopa and the Kenya Union of Saccos (KUSCCO)
Through Equity Bank, one can get Jikokoa through the Eco-Moto loan. A person who takes out the loan pays Sh350 in a span of 12 months. As an M-Kopa client one can get the charcoal stove for only Sh40 a day. KUSCCO gives their clients the product through the Jiko Safi funds.
Despite beginning from a humble background, Flinn says their profit-for-good firm’s ultimate goal is to reduce deforestation by providing an energy-saving solution. In regard to this, he says they are planning to launch a bigger Jikokoa to be used in institutions and restaurants.