International Research and Development, Africa Ltd.

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Harnessing the power of sorghum-based biofuel to displace the usage of biomass and fossil fuels in Kenya. 


Headquarters Nairobi, Kenya
Established 2001
Impact Areas Kenya
Type For-Profit
Energy Sectors
Business Model Types
Staff Size (upon scale-up) 40 (cooker factory); 138 (biodiesel refinery)
Annual Budget $3,070,000
Major Funders Initiator Funds, Kenya Climate Innovation Center
Awards None yet.



BIO MOTO ROLLUP BANNER final2view_crop copy

International Research and Development Africa, Ltd. is implementing a hybrid sweet stalk sorghum-based biofuel system to displace the usage of biomass and fossil fuels, save families money, and reduce the incidence of illnesses that are caused by indoor air pollution. Through the usage of biofuels, IRD Africa also helps to mitigate climate change, reduce deforestation, create local jobs, increase food production, and alleviate poverty. They are just about to operationalize their activities.


Energy Products/Services

  • IRD Africa’s product is an ethanol biofuel product that comes from sweet stalk sorghum, a drought resistant grain crop that is grown in tropical and subtropical regions.
  • Sorghum is a very hardy, drought-tolerant crop that has the potential to adapt really well to anthropogenic climate change.
  • The fuel itself is processed from the stalk of the plant, in Bio refineries to be built in the sorghum growing zones.
  • IRD Africa will also be manufacturing and distributing the Bio Moto Cooker, a proprietary cooker designed specifically for the biofuel.
  • The Bio Moto Cooker is designed in such a way that it eliminates the possibility of accidental burn accidents.
  • Since the burner operates at atmospheric pressure, there is no risk from explosions.
  • Farmers who partner with IRD Africa use part of the money they make from selling sorghum stalk to purchase the Bio Moto burner and fuel for their own use.

Target Market

  • IRD Africa mainly targets households above the poverty line who have adequate purchasing power to be able to benefit from their product (about $3-7 a day USD).
  • This market consists of 3 million peri-urban and rural households and 1.5 million urban households.
  • For their supply chain, they are targeting 1 million growing families to grow sweet-stalk sorghum as feedstock for the fuel.


International Research and Development, Africa Ltd.

Revenue Streams

  • Revenue will be generated from the sales of fuel and cookers.
  • Revenue also comes from grants.

Value Proposition

  • IRD Africa wants to demonstrate a new way of creating base of pyramid wealth through proven agriculture in semi-arid and arid economically marginalized societies that are normally food aid recipients. They want to grow food, clean fuel and animal fodder simultaneously for income generation to help improve their livelihoods.
  • The Bio Moto cooker meets IWA/ISO Performance Tier 4, and is amongst the cleanest, safest and most thermally efficient biomass fueled cookers in the world.

Problem Addressed

  • Over 18,000 premature deaths are caused by respiratory ailments related to household air pollution in Kenya alone.
  • Denatured Ethanol biofuel is cheaper, cleaner, safer fuel for cooking and heating than kerosene and biomass. It is a lot less polluting and therefore does not lead to respiratory ailments that are caused by inhaling the carbon monoxide laden fumes and smoke from burning other fuel sources.
  • Ethanol, as a biofuel, is also carbon neutral. Unlike biomass and petroleum products, burning it does not contribute to anthropogenic climate change.
  • The displacement of biomass by ethanol also results in a reduction in deforestation and freeing up of time that would normally be used for collecting firewood.
  • Sorghum is also an extremely versatile crop; the grains can be harvested and used for food and animal feed, substituting maize.  The foliage can be used as organic fertilizer or animal fodder as well. It is also drought tolerant and has been cultivated in Africa for two thousand years.

Where They Are Now

Impact to Date

  • Their product is on the verge of deployment. Subject to access to capital.
  • The Bio Moto cooker and fuel are interdependent and neither is available in the market independently. They will be sold together. Focused on entering the market within 6 months.


  • 2001: Establishment. Initiated Concept and Pathway R & D.
  • 2007: Finalized feedstock selection. Initiated Statutory Quarantined Seed Varieties Field Trials.
  • 2011: Finalized biofuel processing pathway optimization.
  • 2013: Finalized cooker design, optimization, consumer testing, prototype optimization and IP protection application filing.
  • 2013-2014: Hybrid seed statutory certification process completed.
  • 2014: Completed GSBI Online Program.
  • 2014: Deployment pending securing scale capital.

Growth Plan

  • After demonstrating sustainable proof of concept and product launch in the market, IRD Africa plans to obtain seed financing and financing through venture capitalists and loans.
  • This capital will be used to build new production facilities and expand operations.
  • They will also work with molasses producers and local distributors to help increase fuel production and improve distribution methods.
  • They are currently working on establishing a production plant that will be capable of producing 20,000 liters of biofuel a day.
  • Eventually, they hope to produce 3 million liters of biofuel a day.

How They Deliver

Product Sourcing

  • The feedstock is to be sourced from local farmers, who will generate an income off of selling the sorghum stalk to IRD Africa.
  • The biofuel itself is manufactured locally at Bio refineries owned by IRD Africa.
  • The Bio Moto Cooker is manufactured by IRD Africa locally.


  • Farmers who supply the feedstock will be recruited on a contract basis, and the initial farmers have agreed to purchase the stoves and fuel against the revenue they make from sales.
  • Fuel and cookers will also be sold through existing last mile energy distribution channels, micro entrepreneurs, retail partners, as well as network marketers.


  • Ethanol biofuel is cheaper than kerosene at about $0.76 USD/liter (compared to $1.20 USD/liter), and burns more efficiently than propane, paraffin, and biomass.
  • All in all, the fuel itself is 50% more cost effective than other fuel sources.
  • The Bio Moto Cooker is attractive, higher quality, higher thermal efficiency more durable, affordable at $ 48.70, the same price point as, lower quality charcoal-lined stoves.
  • Through the farming energy program, IRD Africa also effectively subsidizes the cost of the burner and fuel for farmers who grow sorghum for them.
  • Displacing charcoal, the Bio Moto bio fueled cooker saves a family of 5 persons $165.60 USD a year on fuel, has a 4 month payback period, and offsets 3.5 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.


  • IRD Africa has already received a $27,235 USD proof of concept grant from the Kenya Climate Innovation Center to produce 200 cookers for field testing. IRD Africa requires an additional $777,398 USD funding to purchase inventory, cooker production and logistic assets, working capital and pre-operation costs to sustainably enter the market, acquire market share, traction and retain customers.
  • After proof of concept, they seek to raise $3 million USD in grants and equity to build a fuel processing plant.


  • IRD Africa seeks to scale throughout Kenya, and seeks to hold 90% of the domestic heating and cooking fuel market within 10 years of launch.
  • Initial momentum for scale-up and growth will come from seed capital, venture capital, equity, and/or debt financing.


  • IRD Africa seeks to target as many customers as possible, to be in every home in Kenya within 5-10 years, and fully displace the usage of biomass and petroleum-based fuels for cooking and heating in Kenya.
  • The result will be a huge reduction in indoor air pollution, the generation of large amounts of income for farmers, and the offset of large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.





The Bio Moto Cooker is a proprietary cooker manufactured locally by IRD Africa specifically for the use of ethanol biofuel. It’s manufactured from durable, polished stainless steel alloy and consists of a lower burner portion and a metal pot for cooking. It’s attractive, high quality, at the same price point as low-quality charcoal-lined cookstoves, and comes with a 15 year warranty.

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A woman demonstrating usage of the Bio Moto cooker.

More Resources

Contact Information

Plot No. B.25, Nairobi International Trade Fair, Jamhuri Park, Off Karen / Ngong Road, Nairobi , Kenya