For the past four years, I have been looking for ways to support solutions to Africa’s climate crisis. In 2013, I set up this foundation with the goal of investing in enterprises that would not only help stem the rapid deforestation of African landscapes, but also bring lasting, and scalable, improvements to people’s lives. I have focused much of my attention on the charcoal problem, providing early-stage funding to companies that distribute alternative fuels and improved cookstoves to low-income African households. TIST presented a different opportunity—a chance to support the restoration of degraded lands, by empowering smallholder farmers with the necessary knowledge and incentives to plant and maintain millions of trees.
Zambia is a landlocked country of 14.6 million in Southern Africa that has a large and rapidly growing urban population: 39% of Zambians live in cities, and their numbers are increasing by more than 4% a year. In Lusaka, the nation’s capital and largest city, nearly 60% of the 1.8 million inhabitants rely on charcoal as their primary cooking fuel, and the poorest third of residents typically spend between 20-40% of their household income on charcoal. In addition, many households that own electric stoves opt to cook with charcoal instead, in order to avoid high utility costs.