Prince William’s Earthshot Prize organization just released its list of finalists for the prestigious environmental award. The nominees include many special people, but one woman is cleaning the air with her stoves. Here’s the scoop on Charlot Magayi.
Prince William’s Earthshot Prize
William launched the Earthshot Prize in 2020, having been inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot mission to land men on the moon. The Prince of Wales hopes to incentivize environmental change and encourage others to help repair the planet. Earthshot hopes to make the planter a cleaner, safer place by 2030.
There are 15 Earthshot Prize finalists and five awards. Over 1,000 people and organizations submitted their environmental solutions to be considered for the awards—30% more than last year. The winners will be announced in December at the awards ceremony, which will take place in Boston.
A panel of judges including Prince William, Queen Rania of Jordan, and Sir David Attenborough will choose the winners. The five winners will receive a $1 million grant towards their project and support from the Earthshot organization and its network.
Charlot Magayi, Mukuru CEO, Is One Of The Nominees
One of the nominees this year is Charlot Magayi, the founder and CEO of Mukuru Clean Stoves. She was inspired to start her company through her struggles growing up in the Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums. After becoming a teen mom, she dropped out of school to sell charcoal.
Magayi used the charcoal herself as well due to its affordability. “My daughter and I kept suffering from respiratory tract infections, and when she turned two she suffered a severe burn injury from a traditional stove,” she shared on the organization’s website.
After saving up enough money, Magayi was able to reenroll in school. There, she realized the health hazards caused by charcoal and other solid fuels. “An enthusiast of science and social studies, I wanted to inspire fellow women to lead the fight against household air pollution in Africa!” she said of her decision to found Mukuru.
The company designs, produces, and distributes cook stoves that are made from recycled waste metal throughout Kenya. These amazing stoves can decrease fuel consumption by 30-60%, reduce toxic smoke emissions by 50-90%, and lower the risk of burns in children under 5 years by 40%.
So far, Mukuru has sold over 70,000 stoves, served over 2,000 learning institutions, and impacted the lives of over 350,000 people. All of their sales agents are female, and 85% of the women who sell the stoves live in the communities that Mukuru serves.
Mukuru’s long-term mission is “to significantly reduce household air pollution in underserved markets in Africa [and] to be the most reliable cooking asset for [Kenyan] households.” Magayi spoke to People about her company’s nomination and what she still hopes to achieve with Mukuru.
“Women are the ones who are most impacted by household air pollution and energy poverty on the continent [of Africa],” Magayi explained. “So being able to empower them to distribute a solution that helps prevent that, mitigate the risks of climate change, but also keep their children safe, is very exciting for me. For me, that’s the most important part of it.”
Magayi: ‘I Really Do Want To Win’
Magayi said she was honored to be nominated for the Earthshot Prize, but emphasized that the attention and support Mukuru is receiving from the nomination is a prize in and of itself. “I feel like even if we do not win, the validation and the platform that Earthshot provides is going to ensure that we do get there by attracting us to the partners that we’ve been looking for for years,” she shared.
The CEO continued, “I really do want to win, but even if I don’t get the top prize, it gives me a platform that we’re going to be able to leverage to get the financing and the resources that we need to scale our business.”
Magayi and her company are competing in the “Clean Our Air” category. They are up against The Ampd Enertainer, an electric battery energy storage system that powers construction sites, and Roam, a Kenyan group that produces electric vehicles like motorcycles and buses.
As Magayi said, simply receiving the Earthshot Prize nomination will bring attention to these organizations and their mission—no matter who ends up taking the prize home. Through the nominees’ work, Earthshot will get closer to their goal of creating a safer world by 2030.