Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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$5000 Yunus Challenge Award


Competition Year: 2008

High quality, affordable housing insulation products from agricultural and urban waste for under-served markets.

Health and Medical Energy and Environment Agriculture and Processing

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Our Pitch

Ghonsla will provide high quality and affordable housing insulation products made from agricultural and urban waste to under-served markets in Pakistan and beyond. The burning of biomass is used in 81% of Pakistani homes. By improving home energy efficiency and thermal comfort, Ghonsla seeks to reduce indoor air pollution, prevent deforestation, and increase disposable income.

Indoor air pollution caused primarily by the burning of biomass kills 1.5 million people yearly worldwide, with a disproportionate effect on women and children who spend more time near the home hearth. In Pakistan, with its cold northern climate, the burning of biomass contributes to nearly 71,000 annual deaths.

Alternative energy fuels are not readily available in the highlands of Pakistan, where wood cut from forests is collected or purchased. Stoves designed to decrease the smoke production do not address the needs of warming the home. The downstream effects of deforestation and soil erosion have choked rivers, causing massive flooding in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Over 45% of the rural population and 86% of the urban population in Pakistan purchase their firewood/fuel. Poor families often spend over 20% of their monthly expenditure for the energy; thus a reduction of 50% of firewood needs translates into an increase of 10% of their disposable income.


Who We Are

Emmanuel Arnaud, Harvard

Monica Le, Harvard

Zehra Ali, MIT

Mubarik Imam, MIT

Our Community Partner

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