17 August 2017

Rwanda: Two Local Startups Compete for Rwf490 Million in Green Challenge

Two Rwandan startups have reached the finals of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, a global competition that attracts startups whose solutions aim to reduce greenhouse emissions.

African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED) and EarthEnable are among the five global green finalists that are competing for the grand prize of 500,000 euro (about Rwf491.7m).

Globally, five startups are in the final

ARED is a local startup that developed the Shiriki Hub, a mobile solar kiosk, that seeks to bring low-cost connectivity and energy services to Africans.

Henri Nyakarundi, a solar-energy entrepreneur, is the brains behind this solution and his company operates under a micro-franchising system that leases the kiosks to agents.

"Next month I'm travelling to Amsterdam and I am definitely excited for us to be among the finalists. This is a great opportunity not just to meet investors but also networking. We shall present our business plan to more than 500 people, and believe we are ready since it's not the first time," he said.

Nyakurundi's project has previously been nominated for energy innovation awards and grants by the likes of Microsoft, MIT, and ICT for Social Good, to name a few.

Today, the startup runs about 30 solar-powered carts and it plans to open doors in Uganda in May.

On the other hand, EarthEnable is a social enterprise that provides an alternative in the form of sustainable, clean, and waterproof earthen flooring, which makes homes cleaner and healthier at a much lower price for the customer and the environment.

EarthEnable uses a mix of locally-sourced materials to build the floor and seal it with a varnish made from proprietary plant-based oil that makes the floor hard, durable, clean and waterproof. Gayatri Datar is the entrepreneur behind this innovative solution.

According to the organisers, the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge started in 2007 with view to recognise those with ideas that support green economies.

"The Dutch Postcode Lottery started the competition in 2007, after being inspired by (former US) President Clinton to look for those dedicated entrepreneurs with brilliant green business plans, plans that are ready to speed up the transition towards a low carbon economy," they said.

"The answers to the issues of our time are already in front of us. But it takes entrepreneurs like the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge finalists to present us with sustainable solutions and get them out into the world."

Early this year, people from all over the world submitted their sustainable business plans and in mid-July, the organisation announced the 25 nominees who stood a chance of becoming a finalist.

Later, five finalists were selected for the final round of the competition, and these will present their business plan in front of a selected audience and an international panel of experts during the grand finale in Amsterdam, the Neitherlands on September14.

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