A Dumbo-based startup received a shock of socially conscious capital, with BioLite announcing $5 million in funding and financing, the company announced Tuesday.
The funding round was led by the charity investment fund Acumen, with additional investment by the nature and adventure-leaning fund White Road Investments, as well as RRE Ventures and Rose Park Advisors. BioLite also raised funds in the round through debt and grant money.
BioLite’s signature product is its BioLite camp stove, a stove which, when cooking, can charge your phone or whatever battery-powered camping equipment you might have.
Another of its products is the BioLite home stove, which drastically reduces the amount of smoke produced by a traditional open-flame wood-burning fire. Wood, peat, dung and other biomass-burning fires are a significant health concern in many parts of the world. According to the Poverty Action Lab, about 50 percent of the world’s households, and 95 percent of those in impoverished countries burn open-flame fires, leading to poorer health for many due to smoke inhalation, and to about 2 million deaths per year as a result.
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves advocates for, and aims to get 100 million clean cook stoves, such as those produced by BioLite, into use in the developing world by 2020. While there is a lot of promise for this project, the efficacy of cook stoves has also been critically questioned in an NBER research paper by a group of economists, who report that after the initial training and enthusiasm that go with the new cook stoves, people in developing countries frequently abandon them for traditional flames due to the annoyance of cleaning and maintaining the stoves.