Improving Livelihoods and Empowering Women

by By Jenna Hobocan, MBA’12 (8/8/11)

By Jenna Hobocan, MBA’12

Using what I learned in the SGE immersion to think creatively, thoroughly, and thoughtfully, to develop a national clean cookstove market strategy for Indonesia and East Timor.

Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP), a group within Accenture that operates based on a not-for-profit business model to channel Accenture’s core business capabilities to the international development sector, is an exciting summer opportunity. My assignment is with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in Indonesia and East Timor. The Alliance is a public-private partnership working to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.  Launched last year by US Secretary of State Clinton, the Alliance is hosted by the UN Foundation and supported by a number of partners including National Governments, UNDP, WHO, GIZ, Morgan Stanley, Shell, and Bosch-Siemens.

Fabrics Market
Fabrics market in East Timor, a local women’s cooperative that trains women in traditional weaving skills and will be leading the cookstove workshop

In this project, ADP is bringing business acumen to a global cross-sector movement to create market-based, scalable and self-sustaining industries, and reduce one of the largest health risks in the developing world. It is an opportunity for me to apply my experience in infrastructure and socioeconomic planning with the business-based approach that I studied in the SGE Immersion, whilst working with the technical expertise and resources of a large scale initiative that has gained tremendous global momentum.

The project includes national market feasibility studies for East Timor, Nigeria, Brazil, and Indonesia.  Each study includes a sector map and country cookstove market strategy. The sector map is approached using a toolkit that was previously developed by ADP based off of studies in Guatemala, Honduras, India, and Kenya. It provides a framework to analyze the macro environment, indoor air pollution awareness, current programs, customer demand and segmentation, the existing stove industry, and carbon finance potential for each country. Each strategy identifies intervention themes, develops recommendations, and outlines an operational plan for national cookstove market creation.

Cookstove demoPhoto: Protos Plant Oil Cooker stove demonstration

My assignment role is located in Jakarta, Indonesia, where I launched the Indonesia sector map and am responsible to deliver the Indonesia country strategy. I have had the opportunity to work independently and with my project manager and two other consultants who recently joined me upon completing the Nigeria assessment. It has been an incredible opportunity to work across sectors, as a major component of the project is stakeholder meetings to learn local insights, interests, and capacities. I have interviewed program leads within the Indonesian government, the World LPG Association, rural development NGOs, biogas programs, stove producers, and so on. 

I have also been working with my manager to commence the East Timor operational plan that was developed in March. During a visit to East Timor, we presented the country strategy to stakeholder organizations, including the UNDP, local NGOs, Unicef, MercyCorps, and local Red Cross. Several local organizations and the government will be leading a kickoff workshop that we are preparing to take place in early September. 

This project is incredibly interesting because each study presents a new situation and unique set of challenges. One of the greatest difficulties is identifying how to work with existing infrastructure, regulatory, and consumer barriers to create competitive industries with multiple products and players. Through the SGE Immersion and a sponsored case competition, I was exposed to frameworks for base of the pyramid development, pushed to understand issues such as latent demand, and required to think outside of the box for solutions.  This approach to sustainability has been a definite advantage in my ability to grasp the complexity of this problem. Being here, seeing the issues, and meeting the stakeholders is incredible motivation to apply what I learned in SGE to think creatively, thoroughly, and thoughtfully, as we develop the national strategy in the coming weeks.

East TimorPhoto: East Timor