Ethan Kay

United States of America

  • Program Year
  • 2011-12
  • Country of Current Residence
  • U.S.A.
  • City/Town of Current Residence
  • New York City
  • Current Position
  • Managing Director, Emerging Markets
  • Organization
  • BioLite
  • Profession(s)
  • Social Entrepreneur

  • Sector(s)
  • Business, Climate Change, Climate Policy, Communications (including media), Entrepreneurship (including social), Human rights
  • Language(s)
  • English (mother tongue), Hindi, Spanish
  • Interest(s) / Expertise
  • advocacy, entrepreneurship, environmental advocacy, human rights
Scholar LinkedIn profile Scholar email address

As a successful academic and entrepreneur focused on building inclusive businesses for poor people in developing countries, and a passionate advocate for human rights, Ethan brought a unique blend of accomplishments and interests to the Foundation. Ethan now works as Managing Director at Biolite in New York.

Ethan’s long-term goal is to develop market-based solutions that address the needs and interests of low-income households in developing countries through product innovation and sustainable livelihood creation. His ambition, during and beyond the Sauvé Program, is to build and fund social enterprises that prove to corporations that they can simultaneously achieve social and environmental impact and profitability.

Ethan has designed and launched partnerships between corporations and NGOs in India and Bangladesh to give poor rural women access to sustainable livelihoods and villagers access to sanitation, nutrition, and clean energy. He has helped build a distribution channel in rural India to supply essential goods and services (e.g., sanitation and groceries) to low-income households, and served for six years as an advisor to Swayam Shikshan Prayog [SSP], an Indian microfinance and rural community development NGO. He also helped design a ‘Social Business’ between Grameen Bank and Shaklee Corporation to retail low-cost, micronutritionalmicro-nutritional supplements to malnourished villagers in rural Bangladesh.

As a Ph.D. candidate and Fulbright Scholar at the University of Oxford (University College), Ethan’s dissertation examines how to effectively structure and implement corporate-NGO clean cookstove partnerships in India. He holds an M.Phil. in Politics (Comparative Government) from Oxford, and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar and a Sol Feinstone Award recipient. After Wharton, Ethan spent two years in the private sector focused on emerging markets. Ethan is a Board Member of Re-Emerging World, an emerging market strategic advisory firm; Hands Up For Darfur, which raises funds for local relief organizations in Sudan; and Vice President of the Board of Ahuyu, a U.S.-based non-profit that is expanding access to clean cookstoves for poor people in Latin America. He is also a Senior Fellow of Humanity In Action; served as a district leader in Ohio on the 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign; worked as an economic development consultant to UNDP in Chernobyl; and served as Head of the U.S. Team on Climate Change for the G8 Research Group.

As a Fellow

Building on his doctoral dissertation, Ethan’s project as a Sauvé Fellow was to collaborate with BioLite to bring to market smokeless cookstoves for low-income families in developing countries. He helped BioLite design and develop its: channel partnership and scaling strategy; pilot programs; end-to-end value chain; and carbon financing model. He also plans to publish at least two articles in prestigious journals, focused on debunking the so-called ‘poverty penalty’ and codifying the common pitfalls of market-based poverty alleviation strategies.  He also served as Lead Technical Expert on the World Bank’s 2012 ‘State of the Cookstove Sector’ report.

Ethan had a 30-minute nationally televised interview on social entrepreneurship with Robert Scully on PBS; delivered a TEDxMontreal Talk on indoor air pollution and ultra-clean cookstoves; and gave several lectures at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management and Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies. He also submitted an article for publication debunking the so-called ‘poverty penalty’.