Case study

Exploring empowerment outcomes for poor female consumers using improved cook stoves in Lubumbashi

ÉLAN RDC’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Learning Series: Case Study 2

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Women and working-aged adolescent girls in DRC are some of the most marginalised in the world. 

This case study describes women's positive outcomes and economic empowerment when given more beneficial roles in the market system.

In 2014 ÉLAN RDC formed a successful partnership with Halt Bank, an Improved Cook Stove (ICS) producer and distributor based in Lubumbashi, to address constraints to poor consumers’ access to – and ability to finance – high quality ICS. It was hoped the intervention would disproportionately benefit poor women.

The research concludes that - despite men welcoming women's enhanced empowerment only where it was perceived to support, not threaten, the patriarchal order -  the women were overwhelmingly positive about the purchase and use of ICS, and the broader benefits that this has had for their lives. 

  • Households have realised significant cost savings, captured by women
  • A significant reduction in hours spent by women on unpaid care
  • Collectively the financial and time savings have helped women to establish or expand existing productive activities, facilitating or strengthening their own income streams
  • Enhanced mobility
  • Increased financial autonomy
  • A broadening of women’s activities away from care-focussed tasks


ÉLAN RDC is a UK Aid funded private sector development programme that uses a market systems approach to facilitate pro-poor economic growth in the DRC.