From finance to clean cooking: Clarisse's YEP Energy journey |

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From finance to clean cooking: Clarisse's YEP Energy journey

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Clarisse Gahunzire Uwitonze works for BioMassters in Rwanda as a Finance and Admin Associate Manager. In her role, she carries out administrative and financial duties for the company. BioMassters is a clean cooking company that produces Rwandan-made pellet fuel for clean cookstoves. Working in finance does not mean Clarisse's job is all about numbers. She shares her personal journey as a YEP professional with us.

"In Rwanda, households use firewood (76%), charcoal (17%), and gas (5%) as their primary energy sources for cooking. But, at a province level, the percentages are different. In the Eastern Province, 83.4% of the households use firewood for cooking, and in the Southern Province, 88.5%. Most Rwandan households do not have access to modern energy cooking services. This deeply concerns me, as traditional cooking is energy-inefficient, highly polluting, and harmful to people and the planet.

Numbers first

Traditional cooking is estimated to be responsible for 40% of the country's air pollution. The fumes from traditional cooking cause health problems, resulting in premature deaths. Traditional fuels, such as charcoal, are expensive and polluting. But, most Rwandan households cannot afford a healthier alternative.

Time to make a change

We aim to reduce the percentage of households that use firewood for cooking by producing pellets as cooking fuel. With pellets as fuel, we aim to stop charcoal production and consumption in Rwanda. Also, distributing the most advanced biomass gasification stoves creates a demand for the pellets. Pellet flames are nearly as clean and convenient as LPG. And pellets are considerably cheaper than charcoal.

Besides customer benefits, there are benefits for the general public. Having more Rwandans shift to clean cooking will reduce toxic air pollution, improving people's health. Healthier people and a healthier environment will improve people's livelihoods.

Working with a fellow expert

I am happy to have René as my fellow young expert. We are both equipped with different knowledge as we work in different departments. But we share the same ambition of working for a clean cooking company. With our ideas and knowledge combined, we improve company processes and procedures.

Becoming a YEP Energy professional

YEP Energy is a life-changing programme; I got to know myself better professionally and personally. In the future, I hope to continue growing the way the YEP training programme taught me. I gained different and valuable perspectives on diversity and access to a broader range of talents. Also, I learnt better communication skills, which will broaden my horizon.

I look forward to benefitting from regular meetings with my coach and other sessions so that I can continue developing my skills. My goal is to develop leadership skills and grow into a top-level position in the clean cooking and renewable energy sector. I may even start my own company one day."

Find out more about YEP Energy

Would you like to learn more about YEP Energy and how it can benefit your organisation? Or are you a young energy expert, and would you like to learn how to get involved? Visit the YEP website.

The Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) hosts and manages the overall YEP programme. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency is the YEP Energy programme's coordination point and network organisation. For information on calls for proposals or how to apply for a subsidy, please contact the YEP Programme Bureau.

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