Off Grid Electric gets $7M to ‘light Africa in a decade’
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Why do more people live without electricity today than when Edison turned on the first light bulb?
For as long as he can remember, Xavier Helgesen has been fascinated with this question. And today, he landed $7 million in financing for his Arusha, Tanzania-based venture, Off Grid Electric, which provides solar energy to people in emerging nations.
“The benefits of our advances in technology overwhelmingly accrue to the richest, not the poorest,” said Helgesen in an email exchange with VentureBeat.
Helgesen began his career by co-founding the online bookstore Better World Books. He eventually became fixated with clean-tech after realizing that an estimated 1.5 billion people globally still lack access to a reliable power source.
Helgesen met his cofounders, Erica Mackey and Joshua Pierce, during their studies at Oxford University. The three friends bonded over clean-tech and eventually decided to make the move to Tanzania, where some 85 percent of households operate without electricity.
Off Grid Electric charges a minimum of $5 per month for any home in Africa to access solar power through its M-Power energy hub in Tanzania. The pitch to potential customers: Switch from kerosene lamps to solar, and you can benefit from a higher-quality and cheaper service.