Incubator Fledge closes funding round as its startup BURN gets cooking

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Young startup incubator Fledge, and the most successful company from its 2012 summer programme, BURN Manufacturing, had a fruitful week after closing the first round of its venture capital funding.

BURN, a company addressing cookstove problems in the developing world, managed to secure a whopping US$3-million loan from the federal Overseas Private Investment Corporation and a US$1-million investment from General Electric.

This around the same time that Fledge’s first round brought in US$307 000 — enough money to back the seven companies from Fledge’s 2012 summer as well as those in the next round, beginning on 18 February, co-founder and managing director Michael “Luni” Libes told Xconomy.

BURN Manufacturing aims to solve the all too serious problem of dangerous cooking fires that kill as many as two to four-million people in the developing world each year, mainly due to respiratory diseases related to indoor cooking smoke.

According to the Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, currently up to three-billion people detrimentally use biomass, including wood and manure, as fuel for cooking and warmth.

The solution is high-efficiency cookstoves that will be safer, cleaner and impact up to 16.5-million people’s lives for the better over the next 10 years.

The raised money will be used to build a factory in Kenya and additional assembly units in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with the company expecting to provide around 200 jobs in Africa.

Libes stated that although Seattle-based incubator Fledge is presently structured around technology companies, its aim is to fill a gap in the local startup ecosystem by concentrating on entrepreneurs who focus on consumers interested in energy, the environment, sustainability, health and community.

Libes’ hope is to raise about US$2.2-million over the next two years to form a fund that can adequately operate as an incubator for startups for ten years.

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