Social Entrepreneurship

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AE4H Report: Energy Access Entrepreneurship

This report was created by AE4H expert Michael Sinclair, a Mechatronics Engineering graduate from the University of Waterloo with 6 years of experience in the solar technology sector. In 2016, he spent 3 months living off-grid in rural Malawi, providing training for instructors at the Zayed Solar Academy, and developing a solar PV visual inspection procedure for use in the developing world that is now published and distributed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). After this experience he spent 4 months in the University of Waterloo's Velocity start-up incubator, exploring entrepreneurial opportunities in the energy access sector.
The report endeavors to create a foundation on which to discuss the challenges facing Energy Access entrepreneurs as seen from the perspective of an entrepreneur in the developed world. Interviews with subject matter experts highlighted the following ten unique challenges:

  1. Balancing social impact with financial return

  2. Establishing product/market fit

  3. Accessing the market

  4. Threats of anti-competitive practices

  5. Access to finance and investment

  6. Finding and attracting talented employees

  7. Access to data

  8. Friendliness of the business environment

  9. Developing local partnerships

  10. Risks to personal safety
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Supported Social Enterprise Start-ups


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Circadian Energy provides affordable, sustainable energy infrastructure for underserved communities by developing an energy management hub which provides simple home-to-home energy sharing and integrates with existing off-grid generation technologies. Currently, over 1 billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity, and another 2 billion still rely on alternative sources for their basic energy needs. Existing off-grid solutions such as pico-solar devices and solar home systems are unable to scale and fully replace alternative fuels, which is not only expensive but is also extremely hazardous. By enabling energy sharing between homes, an energy network is created where each household's energy generation and storage supports the collective capacity of the community, allowing the entire network to scale and expand their energy usage. 

Circadian Energy is currently developing pilot programs in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, to provide reliable energy access for communities without electricity.

Circadian Energy is a proud member of the University of Waterloo's Velocity incubator program! 

Learn more at Circadian Energy: https://www.circadian.energy/


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HITCH is a Smart Wireless Mesh Router & Predictive Content Caching Software Platform that pre-downloads relevant online content once, so many users can access the same information quickly without an Internet connection. Globally, over 4 billion people don't have sustainable (available, affordable & accessible) broadband. Most of these users are un/underserved by existing coverage and service infrastructure; and live in rural and urban emerging markets. Thus, are denied the ability to benefit from real technology-driven economic growth. Flexfinity has developed HITCH – an enhanced smart wireless mesh router that enables communities automatically build, operate, and sustain self-contained Internet platforms; accelerating sustainable broadband in emerging markets.

HITCH is working closely with 10 schools for a 3-month trial period, to intelligently deliver affordable educational video content straight to classrooms.

HITCH is a proud alumnus of the University of Waterloo's Velocity incubator program!

Learn More about HITCH: http://tryhitch.com 

Global Social Enterprise Partners


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Mentoring Students for the Hult Prize

The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student Social Enterprise competition. Teams from all over the world compete annually for a $1 Million grand prize to put their social enterprise idea into action. In 2017, the Hult Prize theme is ‘Harnessing the Power of Energy to Transform the Lives of 10 Million People’.

AE4H has been actively mentoring a number of Hult Prize teams from the University of Waterloo.


HULT PRIZE @UW KICK-OFF EVENT

The kick-off event featured a welcome from Hult Prize Campus Director Pragya Dawadi; Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre Faculty Member, Roopa Reddy; Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy's Manager of Global Programs and Initiatives, Nigel Moore; and Uche Onoura, Co-Founder of HITCH.

AE4H Event: Rethinking Design for Energy Access

Power Shift WR is an events and communication campaign that sparks conversations about the Region of Waterloo’s relationship with energy. To date over 35 local partners have participated by bringing an energy theme to their Earth Week Programming.

In February 2016 AE4H and WGSI hosted a Powershift event at the University of Waterloo. Rethinking Design for Energy Access invited University of Waterloo students to take part in interactive discussions with experts about the exciting opportunities available in this emerging field.
The following questions were considered:

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AN INTRODUCTION TO ENERGY POVERTY 


Jatin Nathwani is the Ontario Research Chair in Sustainable Energy and Public Policy, the Executive Director for the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy, and the Founding Co-Director of the Affordable Energy for Humanity Global Change Initiative.

LIFE AS AN ENGINEER/ENTREPRENEUR IN THE ENERGY ACCESS SPACE


Steve Katsaros, Founder and CEO of Nokero Solar, a company that designs, manufactures and distributes highly efficient solar lights throughout the developing world. Mr. Katsaros delivers a compelling rationale for young engineers to consider a career in global development.




RETHINKING DESIGN FOR ENERGY ACCESS


This video features a presentation by Iana Aranda, Director of Programs at Engineering for Change. Ms. Aranda discussed the opportunities and challenges faced by engineers when confronting global development challenges such as energy poverty.



PLENARY REPORTS: HEAR FROM OUR PARTICIPANTS




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