Solar power leasing business, Off the Grid to the slums brought cheap light

if you do not have a credit card or bank account, how to pay the cost of using solar energy? Off the Grid Electric to help you! Users in developing countries can like mobile phone charged according to call minutes, pay for solar power supply system.

Off the Grid recently obtained by the giant American solar financial and install SolarCity led the $16 million in financing, and expand to users from 25000 to 100000. “Prepaid phone opened the mobile phone market in Africa.” Off the Grid CEO and co-founder of Xavier Helgesen said. “And now, advance the era of solar energy is about to begin.”

replace inefficient and dangerous kerosene lamps, install solar systems and modern lighting – Off the Grid is still in the dark state to bring the power revolution.

use mobile payment, change life

although most people believe that lighting is the most basic application of science and technology, but Off the Grid, found that its users registered the first reason is that they want to charge their phone.

Off the Grid to provide services in Tanzania found that when there’s a lot of people have no outlet, lighting or use kerosene lamps, let alone to recharge the android mobile phone. With other developing countries, people had to walk to a nearby convenience store or business, for $0.25 to charge their phone, this is very inconvenient.

because many remote areas without electricity grid, the only option for many families to Tanzania is solar energy. However, where the average annual income of only $700, plus there is no bank account or credit card, the residents in the face of installation costs up to $1000 in solar system, also can only sigh. Even installed, they want by cheap energy slowly withdraw cost, also bear a lot of risk.

so, Off the Grid from the region has been inspired the way people pay for phone service.

prepaid solar

“we are a small solar leasing pioneer.” Helgesen said. It is very important. Though Thomas Edison invented the electric light, liberating human from the restrictions of the night, but in the region, due to the speed of population growth beyond the progress of science and technology, more and more people can’t use electric power.

users only need to pay the $6 installation, Off the Grid can be fitted with automatic operation in their home solar system, including solar panels, lithium batteries, efficient lighting tools, and an electric meter. Panel will collect solar energy and stored in the battery. Users via their mobile phones to pay Off the Grid, after will receive the password entered the meters, can use electricity.

for user fees for 5 to 10 dollars a month, and the use of kerosene cost about the same, even lower. Helgesen, said Off the Grid users can obtain “50 times of light and convenient to charge their phone or use the TV set. They also cannot use the blender or large energy consumption of bread machine, but compared to some kerosene lamp in the room, this is very much improved. Kerosene lamps burning can endanger human body health, more can lead to careless use of fire.

idea is Off the Grid, after 10 years, the company would pay for the cost. Helgesen said. “our price is more like a utility service”. In addition, Off the Grid by charging mobile phone to the user, not the phone installed inside a meter. This made the cost reduction, Off the Grid does not need cooperation with telecom operators. Even if the user no mobile phone signal in the home, also can use this service.

push power revolution

Helgesen at Oxford University, has won a scholarship to solve the problem of global. At that time, he met his business partner, and initiation of the idea Off the Grid. Previously, Helgesen created the Better World Books – one of the largest second-hand book dealers. At present, the company’s revenue has reached 70 million us dollars. But there is no light, people will not be able to read a book, then Helgesen arrived in Tanzania, want to solve the problem of deeper by solar energy.

Off the Grid has received $16 million in investment, investors including SolarCity, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, and British Zouk Capital. Company plans to increase the number of workers installation, at the same time optimizing its hardware and software. Company set up his own vocational school, even make local solar installation technician.

the company is adopting vertical integration, responsible for all other than the solar panel manufacturing. Insisted on registration, installation, billing and payment process more smoothly, profitability, and users, 100000 milestone at an early date.

in Tanzania, 8 million family has yet to use electric power, and in the neighbouring Kenya has 8 million households. So the market has great potential. This model can be extended to the whole of the developing world. Off the Grid, said the company to take over a longer time to recover the investment costs of this strategy, hoping to win over rivals MobiSol and SolarNow (these services require users to pay all fees in advance). New equity financing also can let big Banks believe that Off the Grid has found the way to raise money for solar system installation.

Helgesen said he hoped more entrepreneurs to address the concerns of those serious, change people’s life, such as energy, rather than “just is a new application, or of some of the trivial things in San Francisco”. He also said he will “see things outside the San Francisco bay area bubble”, and points out that the “relative to developing an application, I prefer to do such a thing”.

Helgesen has never been a lack of electricity, but he often go travel experience in hard environment, in order to understand the problem of people who have not yet been fully attention, what is his plan for Off Grid Electric? “We’re going to build is not an incremental company, but to illuminates the lives of 1 billion people.”

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