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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NURU ENERGY EAST AFRICA

Great Energy Challenge Innovator: Nuru Energy East Africa

Project: Catalyzing Energy Entrepreneurship in Rural Rwanda

Location: Kamonyi District, Rwanda

Summary: Eighty percent of Rwandan households earn less than $1.50/day. They have pressing, but basic energy needs, including task lighting, mobile phone charging and radio. Surprisingly few households use kerosene for lighting. Most depend on cheaper options, such as disposable battery flashlights, which cost only one dollar. Unfortunately, these households end up spending one dollar per month to refill the flashlights with batteries.

Nuru Energy has an innovative business model to compete with these shortsighted options. Our company sets up a recharge station for lighting, which is operated by local village-level entrepreneurs (VLEs). VLEs then sell Nuru LED lights at a competitive price and then generate additional revenue via recurring recharge fees at the Nuru Energy recharge platform.

The platform has Nuru Energy's patent-pending Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) charging box (called the Nuru Octopus Charger), charged by either a POWERCycle pedal generator or 60W solar panel. Each Octopus Charger can simultaneously recharge up to five products (lights or phones) in just 20 minutes.

Ten successful VLEs have been set up using this approach. The project will set up 60 additional VLE groups (30% women) over a five-month period. VLEs will then provide clean energy services to 6,000 rural households.

Goal: To bring basic electricity to rural Rwanda by way of village-level entrepreneurship

Project Participants: Sameer Hajee, CEO (Nuru Energy East Africa); Benon Kalisa, Managing Director (Nuru East Africa (Rwanda) Ltd.)

The Great Energy Challenge grant program, in collaboration with a distinguished group of scientists acting as the board of advisors, awards roughly a half-dozen grants per year. The goal of the grant program is to hasten the growth of promising, global energy solutions as a response to climate change, energy resource constraints and environmental limitations.

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