Lighting Stoves, Igniting Smiles
“Madam, how did you like the stove?” The woman blinked, blushed, and then smiled. No one had called her ‘madam’ before. It was strangely empowering. She murmured a “thank you’’, and the two fellows smiled at her. This was what kept them going. The beguiling surprise that their customers felt when they were addressed with respect; the respect they always deserved but seldom received.
Sitting cloistered in a cubicle and crunching numbers while helping the rich get richer was never an option for Neha Juneja and Ankit Mathur. Their ambition was to impact the lives of the less privileged with their work. This ambition led them to start with Greenway Eco-Development, a consulting company that focused on carbon-reduction and renewable energy projects. However, they soon realized that their consulting without implementation would not succeed. This prompted them to start developing products for the rural markets — products that had an impact on how people led their lives. To this end, they founded Greenway Grameen in 2011.
What commenced as Greenway cooktops, the modern alternative for conventional chulhaas, has now evolved a range of Greenway appliances that aim to deliver high-impact technological solutions to meet the critical needs of individual users, families, and communities. Their recent product, Greenway TV, democratizes entertainment by bringing over 200 channels to rural households at significantly lower costs.
“A phase of six bad months does not mean that you give up. Be resilient, keep going!”
They have had to take the rough with the smooth. They have had to constantly cope with rejection from vendors who did not take them seriously. The inability of rural women to pay and continual efforts to get the menfolk interested in purchasing a stove (as the kitchen is predominantly a woman’s realm) brought considerable financial strain to Greenway. Goons extorting money, false police complaints, and vendors selling their designs in the grey market continue to add drama to their story.
However, the efforts they have put into making their products acceptable and accessible to those who need them has unlocked immense value for them. Despite various barriers, they now have found a strong foothold in the otherwise difficult and inaccessible rural market.
They now stand tall as the largest manufacturer of eco-friendly stoves in India.
It has been exciting six years. Their future is flushed with optimism and hope of making Greenway the brand of choice in developing nations. “We want a Greenway product in every home.” As to what that product is, they do not know, yet. They will eventually, so why should it matter now?