Found in a little shop in Koswatte, are stacks of cylindrical clay stoves that could give the old gas stove the boot. The charcoal stove, that has a little fan attached to it, known as the EZTurbo charcoal stove, is replacing gas stoves in households and eateries, unsurprisingly as it cuts the cost of preparing meals.
With the price of gas at a staggeringly high rate in 2008 as young entreprenuer Riyad Islmail recalls, he set out to invent a stove that would help people get through the difficult time. Riyad is the General Manager at an Engineering company. Having studied Bio Science at the Colombo University and having obtained his MBA, together with his diploma in Diesel engineering, Riyad wanted to put his education to practice.
Dedicating his leisure time to think up and fashion the clay stove, he came up with something that was remarkable in more ways than one. Not only does the EZTurbo cut the cost of whipping up a meal but it’s environmentally friendly as well as easier and safer to use than a gas stove.
The nifty invention has impressed people from the average householder to the President. Riyad has been awarded the Presidential Award for Science and technology under the most commercially viable product (2008), the business plan competition (2008) and the Award for most innovative household product at the INOMEC (2009). It’s not hard to see why the EZTurbo has instantaneously gained popularity. “With the EZTurbo stove you can cook a whole meal with just one coconut shell,” says Riyad as he demonstrates how the stove works by placing a piece of coconut shell into the body of the clay structure.
Setting it alight with a bit of coconut husk, he switches on the little fan that aggravates the flame. “The stove can do more than what a double stove can manage,” he explains, “it can accommodate cooking utensils of different sizes, and the heat can be controlled at three levels.”
'EZ Stoves' is located at 240/B Koswatte, Thalangama North, Battaramulla. Made from a special mixture of clay, that Riyad says is the secret to why the outer stove doesn’t heat up, the device is rendered safe around the household. Built for both indoor and outdoor use, another positive feature is that users won’t have to worry about the walls of their kitchen being blackened with soot and cleaning up the stove is a cinch.
By perching a steel grill over the stove, it’s transformed into a barbecue, giving it one up over your regular gas stove. Weighing about 4 to 5 kilos, the stove is perfect for campers, as it can be transported even on a motorcycle and can be attached to the vehicle battery when needed. Riyad also provides customers with the option of buying an adapter that allows for the stove to be plugged into the cigarette lighter in cars.
Overall cooking on the EZTurbo would cost 4 cents per hour. The EZTurbo is well ahead of its counterpart- the gas stove. Riyad’s customers are thrilled with the stove, and his research shows that 93% of them have claimed they would readily recommend the stove to their friends.
Apart from the domestic EZTurbo, Riyad has also invented a much larger structure for commercial use. “McCurries is using the industrial EZTurbo as well as other eateries around Koswatte,” says Riyad. Spreading in popularity the clay stove is available in Rajigiriya, Kandy and as far out as Muttur.
Gesturing to a pile of boxes, labelled Thoppur, Riyad explains that he wants to make his stove available to those in the further reaches of the country. He elaborates that transporting a gas cylinder from Colombo to Muttur is expensive, so the EZTurbo will be very useful to the people in those regions of the country.
Riyad’s service to his local community is decidedly significant for what overtly seems like a simple clay stove. Having achieved what he has, Riyad would like to encourage other young people to step up and help the country in any way they can. “It doesn’t have to be an innovation, it could even be social service. We shouldn’t simply think about making a change, we should go out and do it,” he said.