Alumni News

TOGO: Soleva launches ‘Cizo’ project for rural electrification

It is within this context that Soleva is entering the solar kit market. The company is part of the Paygo Ventures consortium, formed by Wawa Energy Solutions and Aphelion Energy, two companies based in the United States and Ivory Coast respectively. Soleva’s activities were launched in Vogan, located in the Maritime Region in southern Togo, in the presence of the Togolese authorities.
https://www.afrik21.africa/en/togo-soleva-launches-cizo-project-for-rural-electrification/

Grameen and Acumen raise Rs 10 Cr credit facility for social impact companies via SDG bonds

Grameen Impact Investments and Acumen announced India’s first sustainable development goals (SDG) bond. The LIFE SDG Bond provides a credit facility of Rs 10 crore to five for-profit social impact enterprises. These organisations – LabourNet, Empower Pragati, Edubridge, iSTAR, and iPRIMED – work towards enabling sustainable livelihoods for youth across India in both rural and urban areas.
https://yourstory.com/2019/06/investment-bonds-social-impact-grameen-acumen-labournet

2019 ‘Best Lantern for Backpacking’ Helps Protect Survivors of Disaster and Conflict

The partnership between LuminAID and ShelterBox gives light and hope to people displaced around the world. The features that make LuminAID’s products popular among backpackers also make them an essential aid item delivered by international disaster relief organization, ShelterBox.
https://www.prweb.com/releases/2019_best_lantern_for_backpacking_helps_protect_survivors_of_disaster_and_conflict/prweb16345297.htm

Multi-tasking electric stove sparked in Cedar Valley

A new Cedar Valley-based company is hoping to bring sustainable, safe access to electricity to those who need it most. The company, Terraoak, has created a patented smokeless cookstove that is able to convert heat energy into electricity and output it through a USB outlet.
https://clayandmilk.com/2019/05/29/multi-tasking-electric-stove-sparked-in-cedar-valley/

Sustainable packaging: Five solutions Dell has introduced

Chakr Innovation pitched the idea to Dell, resulting in the tech company now using the ink on 1.5 million Dell packaging boxes across India each year. At the time of launch, Dell estimated that the process would help clean the same amount of air breathed annually by about 110,000 people.
https://www.packaging-gateway.com/features/dell-sustainable-packaging/

Solaris Introduces Biolite SolarHome 620 to Tanzania

Solaris Tanzania is proud and excited to announce its new partnership with BioLite, involving the addition of the BioLite SolarHome 620 to our Solar Home Systems (SHS) product line – tailored especially for the last mile market. The partnership builds on the existing partnership between BioLite and PaygOps, which integrates our industry leading software with the BioLite SolarHome 620 hardware.
https://www.solaris.co.tz/post/solaris-biolite-partnership

How LabourNet is bridging the gap between employers and jobless migrants

Workers are looking for jobs which they don’t get. The market is looking for particular kinds of workers which it does not get.
The two pass each other like ships in the night. Why this yawning gap? This was the thought that struck Gayathri Vasudevan in 2008 when she was working with the International Labour Organisation.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/how-labournet-is-bridging-the-gap-between-employers-and-jobless-migrants-119051800847_1.html

Zero waste fashion: Q&A with US brand Tonlé

Meet Tonlé, the San Francisco-based womenswear brand made entirely from surplus fabric discarded by apparel manufacturers in Cambodia. The brand’s motto is “every thread matters”: the scraps they cannot transform into new clothing are cut into strips and individually hand sewn into “yarn” for new clothes. The scraps left after that are mixed with recycled office paper and sticky rice to make tags. Working in this fashion leaves 2-3 percent waste, compared to an average of 40 percent in a typical factory, the company claims on its website. Packaging is made from recycled paper and cardboard — except when wholesalers or warehouses specifically demand a plastic wrap.
https://fashionunited.uk/news/business/zero-waste-fashion-q-a-with-tonle/2019051743229

Qwenu’s top companies changing Africa | Wecyclers: disrupting waste recycling in Nigeria

Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wecyclers has created a new narrative in Nigeria’s recycling industry. The social enterprise came with a long-needed model for waste collection, enabling it to record massive growth and impact within a very short while.
https://qwenu.com/2019/05/17/qwenus-top-companies-changing-africa-wecyclers-disrupting-waste-recycling-in-nigeria/

A fantastic use for plastic in Tanzania

Not so. The company’s founders, Evanna Lyons and Alexis Cronin, wanted to make furniture they would buy themselves. “That was our whole aim all along,” says Lyons, a psychotherapist from Meath who also works in the local hospital. “It had to be impossible to tell it from any other furniture. And nobody believes it until you sit on it.”
https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/a-fantastic-use-for-plastic-in-tanzania-1.2646906

12 Startups to watch in Kenya in 2019

Kopo Kopo offers a software-as-a-service that enables the 30 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets to accept, process, and manage mobile money payments (e.g.SafaricomM-Pesa,AirtelMoney).
http://www.techinafrica.com/12-startups-watch-kenya-2019/

The Katerva Awards

Founded in 2009 by Meg Wirth—who now serves as chief strategy officer—and Allyson Cote—who stepped down last year from her COO post—Maternova participated in Social Enterprise Greenhouse’s first accelerator program, taking the leap from idea to action after it was “percolating for a long time,” according to Veenam.
https://www.golocalprov.com/business/ri-tech-and-innovation-report-the-katerva-awards

Women veterans encouraged to hone their business savvy

Aesop Technologies of Norfolk specializes in next-generation solar-powered technology. Its current focus is called Aesop Nucleus, a miniature solar concentration system meant replace portable power generators and, eventually, commercial solar panels.
https://www.dailypress.com/news/military/dp-nws-women-veterans-summit-20190515-story.html

ABB’s MGS100 microgrid solution enables self-reliance for 65 Indian villages

ABB, a pioneering technology leader, is writing the future of safer, smarter and more sustainable energy for 65 villages in India. Working in collaboration with Husk Power Systems to develop clean energy microgrids, the companies are using renewable energy to reduce household energy costs by up to 40 percent and improve productivity in 85 percent of factories and small businesses.
https://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=240725

10 startups chosen for NAB-backed fintech accelerator program

The final 10 startups chosen for the program include ZigWay, a mobile app that lets low income families access small loans of under $200 quickly and cheaply, and Emotics, a regtech company using facial recognition to measure user engagement with online compliance training.
https://www.finder.com.au/startups-chosen-startupbootcamp-fintech-2019

Wells-Goodfellow Vacant Parcels to Receive $1 Million in Rainscaping, Helping MSD  Meet its Pledge to Reduce Stormwater Pollution

A block of six vacant parcels in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood have been approved for a total of $1 million in Rainscaping site improvements from the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD). The installations will collect and manage about 2.4 million gallons of rainfall each year from a 6.9 acre area, slowing rainwater down and increasing infiltration to improve Mississippi River water quality. This project represents MSD and implementation partner Greenprint Partners’ push for equitable distribution of funds                           and high-impact rainscaping projects in underinvested areas.  
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b1490f731d4dfc24eb042a8/t/5ccb16e2ffd51600010bbb9e/1556813538578/Press+Release_+Vacant+Parcels+to+Receive+%241+Million+in+Rainscaping+Improvements.pdf

How 2 GWU alums are making meals cheaper for students — and bringing local restaurants business

Now they’re positioning their online marketplace to grow, to attack the food waste problem and help students who struggle to regularly afford meals. They recently got a shot in the arm from the New Venture Competition at GW, a pitch contest for resident startups to secure funding. And Last Call cleaned up.
https://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2019/04/24/how-2-gwu-alums-are-making-meals-cheaper-for.html

TerViva’s $20 million financing tops recent funding news in Oakland

TerViva BioEnergy makes low-cost, tree-based feedstock for the biodiesel market at 10 percent the cost of corn-based ethanol. It restores productivity to idle agricultural land while generating clean energy, supporting local food production and restoring environmental health. Its non-GMO tree crop can be grown with little or no irrigation and produces oilseeds that are processed into oil for biofuel, plant protein for animal feed or biogas and biomass for baseload electricity generation.
https://abc7news.com/business/tervivas-$20-million-financing-tops-recent-funding-news-in-oakland/5258996/

These 5 New Startups Are Turning Heads And Changing Minds

Another household necessity that no one wants to talk about are sanitary pads. Periods are pretty much taboo conversation in most cultures, but Saathi Pads are hoping to change the “yucky” into the “yes!”. Saathi Pads are made from banana fiber, so they’re fully compostable and biodegradable. They also are free from bleaches and perfumes so you can easily say bye bye to that nasty pad rash.
https://feminisminindia.com/2019/04/17/these-5-new-startups-are-turning-heads-and-changing-minds/

Biosense: Low-cost medical diagnostic devices, for rural doctors

While volunteering in rural India 10 years ago with several NGOs, Abhishek Sen, a doctor, saw a large number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases but few ways to diagnose them. “There were several families suffering from serious non-communicable diseases. The male would be hypertensive, the female would be anaemic and the kids would be underweight,” recounts Sen, who along with Yogesh Patil, a classmate from TN Medical College and BYL Nair Charitable Hospital, Mumbai, and a doctor, decided to come up with technology to deal with the problem.
http://www.forbesindia.com/article/innovation-factories/biosense-lowcost-medical-diagnostic-devices-for-rural-doctors/53083/1

Heard About The ‘Smart Kiosk’ That Is Empowering Disabled Women & Improving Lives In Rwanda?

Electricity was unavailable, or perhaps epileptic at best, in parts of Burundi, and his folks lived in an area that was particularly notorious for week-long blackouts. Thus, the locals had to make long trips to neighboring communities that were not as badly hit. And such journeys were not always fruitful – there were days that culminated in futility.
https://weetracker.com/2019/04/03/rwandan-entrepreneur-henri-nyakarundi/

Keurig Dr Pepper to distribute Runa Clean Energy drink

Runa hopes to build itself into the country’s top natural energy drink — and this partnership could help expedite that goal. Runa immediately gains access to Keurig Dr Pepper’s extensive distribution network. For AMI, working with Keurig Dr Pepper is a familiar one: the soda, water, tea and coffee giant already is a distributor of its Vita Coco coconut water beverage.
https://www.fooddive.com/news/keurig-dr-pepper-to-distribute-runa-clean-energy-drink/551772/

This Extreme Extrovert Started a Multimillion-Dollar Wellness Snack Company After Her Stint in the Peace Corps Was Cut Short

Lisa Curtis started her business, Kuli Kuli, on the basis of the benefits of the moringa plant, which is grown in parts of Asia and Africa. The plant also became her key selling point. But then she realized, after a friend’s suggestion, that her story should lead the way.
https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/This-Extreme-Extrovert-Started-a-13731665.php

Jim Sarbh Puts Spotlight On Planet Healers In India

The series Planet Healers on Discovery Channel will deep dive into the journey of how these start-ups are working out innovative technology led solutions to environmental hazards faced in India. One of the first featured companies will be Chakr Innovation, who has created world’s first retro-fit emission control device for diesel generators which can capture over 90% of particulate matter emissions.
https://thecsrjournal.in/jim-sarbh-puts-spotlight-planet-healers-india/

TerViva Raises $20 Million

TerViva, an agriculture technology firm commercializing resilient pongamia trees that produce as much as ten times the beans per acre as soy for the supply of plant protein, vegetable oil, and biofuel raised an additional $20 million in its first close of its Series D funding and current commitments.
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/terviva-raises-20-million-in-series-d-to-drive-product-development-and-market-expansion-300818243.html

A CCAFS-informed public-private partnership reaches 300,000 farmers with climate information

As a result of the trials, Esoko adopted a public-private partnership (PPP) business model proposed by CCAFS to allow the sustainable and equitable dissemination of CIS. The PPP is targeting farmers subscribing to the “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ) initiative introduced by the Government of Ghana as part of its measures to improve food security and employment in the agricultural sector. The PPP includes private telecommunication companies such as Vodafone, Toto agric and aWhere and public institutions, such as the GMet services, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and farmers
https://reliefweb.int/report/ghana/ccafs-informed-public-private-partnership-reaches-300000-farmers-climate-information

Celebrating women innovators

Today, Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate the International Women’s Day. The local theme for this year’s celebrations is Empowering Women Through Innovative Approaches to Social Protection; a Pre-requisite for Inclusive and Sustainable Development. Owen Wagabaza brings you profiles of some Ugandan women whose innovations are changing the world for the betterNatalie Bitature, Musana Carts

https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1495630/celebrating-women-innovators

Generating electricity for millions: Husk Power bolsters Modi’s dream of power to all

Opportunity, they say, lies in adversity. Manoj Sinha, CEO of Husk Power Systems, could well vouch for this adage when he recalls how he abruptly had to quit his plush job in New York to take over the reins of the company he co-founded in 2008.
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/entrepreneurship/generating-electricity-for-millions-husk-power-bolsters-modis-dream-of-power-to-all/articleshow/68213635.cms

Currently in Kenya about 8 million people lack hygienic sanitation, particularly where community members don’t have access to clean toilets. In Nairobi, a company is tackling the waste problem:

Fresh life toilets are a hygienic, clean facility and Sanergy are also creating a useable by-product from the waste. “Everyday we collect about 10 tonnes of waste from the community which we take to a central processing facility and convert into valuable by-product; such as pure protein which is very good animal feed used by farmers who have livestock.” – Edith Karimi.
https://www.kbc.co.ke/turning-waste-into-organic-fertiliser/

On the Record: Nicole Van Der Tuin ’07

I was working for an international NGO based in France that does work in micro finance … and basically [I] encountered the fact that the financial institutions are trying to reach new customers, and there’s a massive population — really the majority of the population — that has never had access to credit. Financial institutions are trying to reach those people as quickly and efficiently as possible and to offer them credit to be able to grow businesses, [and] basically it’s like a $5 trillion credit gap across emerging markets for small businesses. And so these financial institutions where I was working were struggling to scale and meet the huge amount of demand for credit from customers because they have really manual processes. It was such a consistent problem across emerging markets that don’t appear to have a lot of other stuff in common like language and culture and a certain level of development.
https://kenyoncollegian.com/news/2019/02/on-the-record-nicole-van-der-tuin-07/

Back To The Roots Expands With New Funding And Retail Growth

Back to the Roots, the fastest growing organic food & gardening company innovating the way families are connecting with food, announces today its $3M series C led by Central Garden & Pet (NASDAQ: CENT), the country’s leading lawn, garden and pet company. Central was joined by new investor Blue Scorpion Investments, a NYC-based consumer-facing venture capital fund. Back to the Roots will be using the capital to fuel its growth as leaders in the indoor gardening market with over a dozen new products in que to launch in 2019 and thousands of new retail partners including Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale’s, Petco and Costco.

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/back-to-the-roots-expands-with-new-funding-and-retail-growth-300799593.html