Abstract: The design of products for developing communities often excludes the end-users in the decision making process. The study aims to investigate public participation and engagement in the design and development of the Tshulu woodstove. Results of this research point to the need for improved communication between citizens and technical experts, as well as for narrowing the gap between the designer and the user by encouraging meaningful engagement and inclusion. Bottom-up approaches ensure sustained participation of the public, in turn increasing a sense of ownership in the product. These results have implications for energy policy and improved cookstove programmes for developing communities.