Entrepreneurs dedicated to energy access

Source: Total

For billions of people around the world, access to energy is a daily struggle. To do something about it, Total, ENEA Consulting, Acumen and SEforALL launched the Energy Access Booster, a call for projects held to support African entrepreneurs.

According to SEforALL, 1 billion people in the world today lack access to electricity. Close to 3 billion cook or heat their homes with fuels that emit indoor air pollutants that kill nearly 4 million people a year. The solution is to supply them with reliable, affordable and clean energy, in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 7.

Four Partners for the Energy Access Booster Call for Projects

A call for projects to boost energy access

To tackle these development issues, Total, ENEA Consulting, SEforALL and Acumen launched the Energy Access Booster, a call for projects that supports energy access entrepreneurs in Africa. "We aim to choose the sector's best entrepreneurs and provide them a comprehensive support until they're mature enough to interest investment funds," says Florian Temime, investment manager at Total Energy Ventures.

The call for projects targeted deployment-stage businesses focusing on one of four areas — distributed green mini-grids, sustainable mobility, refrigeration (cooling or cold storage) and energy for drinking water and agriculture — "Very promising segments for which very few projects exist," says Florian Temime.

Full support

After being evaluated on six stringent criteria, five winners will receive support and coaching, based on their needs and the partners' respective abilities and resources.

  • Strategy consulting to map out sustainable business models or win and retain customers.
  • Operational support and, potentially, local support, to set up workable distribution pilots or facilitate national or international scale-up.
  • Publicity to raise the entrepreneur's profile and make the project more attractive to potential investors and partners.
  • Funding of up to $50,000 per winner.

"We're convinced that combined expertise and means are the key to growing the energy access sector. We have to be able to get people together, help drive local development and promote innovation, while fulfilling the promise to nurture profitable ideas that can be reproduced," adds Florian Temime.

Applications were accepted from June 27 to July 29, 2018. Five winners were announced from among the many entries:

  • AGSOL, active in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, which develops and markets smart solar-powered farm equipment. "Women in these countries spend two hours a day milling grain by hand or carrying 10 to 20 kilograms of grain to a mill. These small electric machines are set up in villages; the women can stay put and create a local micro-business."
  • Kivu Green Energy, which has been successfully operating a mini-grid in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2017. "The country's geography is such that cities of 200,000 people may not be connected to a grid. This winner's solution solves that problem by deploying mini-grids."
  • Mucho Mangoes in Kenya, which has devised solar drying solutions to limit post-harvest waste. Mucho Mangoes buys mangoes and bananas from surrounding farmers to resell dried mangoes and banana flour to local stores. "We really fell for this tiny, very local company, whose enthusiastic CEO's smart approach to dealing with the problem made us all want to support him!"
  • Solar Freeze in Kenya, which offers solar-powered cold storage units. "Not only does the entrepreneur's business model lend itself to creating business activity via micro-franchising, his technology lessens dependence on seasonal markets, while cutting waste."
  • Sunny Irrigation in Kenya, which makes smart solar pumps that come with sensors to optimize their use. "This solution addresses an often-overlooked target, namely smallholders with less than an acre of cropland. By offering small-scale irrigation, this company fills a real gap."

Says Florian Temime in conclusion: "Some winners are really bowled over when they hear the news. That means we made the right choice and will help them realize their entrepreneurial dream. That's also a success and a point of pride for us!"

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