The Siemens Stiftung has awarded prize money of between 10,000 and 50,000 euros to five African social enterprises in its first competition in the field of electromobility. The money is intended to help the winners establish their products and services on the market.
The competition with the slogan “Electric Mobility – Made in Africa for Africa” was announced by the Siemens Foundation at the beginning of March 2021. According to an accompanying press release, more than 100 applications were received from 19 African countries. According to the initiators, the five winners are characterised by “innovative solutions as well as sustainable and inclusive business models”. The winners are MicroMek from Malawi, BEAM from Burkina Faso, Solar Taxi from Ghana, Greenfoot Africa from Tanzania and ThinkBikes from Nigeria.
Below is a brief description of the companies: MicroMek makes 3D printed drones from local recycled materials. These are used in rural and hard-to-reach areas to transport essential medicines for women and children. BEAM focuses on a mobile solar-powered platform that makes agricultural work such as ploughing, pumping or carrying loads easier for people in rural communities and helps to increase yields and income. Solar Taxi’s core business, meanwhile, is electrically powered small vehicles (from electric motorbikes to mini-cars) for courier and taxi services. The batteries needed are produced locally. Solar Taxi is also involved in reuse and sustainable recycling. Another special feature is that the company’s engineering team is made up of women.
Meanwhile, Greenfoot Africa’s business idea is a marketplace app for perishable food: a solution that enables local traders to deliver their goods efficiently and cost-effectively directly to customers using electric motorbikes. That leaves ThinkBikes: The company relies on locally produced and innovative electric bicycles as well as a rental system for school institutions and universities to introduce the topic of electromobility to the younger generation.
Juliana Rotich, tech entrepreneur and winner of the German government’s Africa Prize, David Rubia, Programme Officer at the United Nations Environment Programme, Daria Saharova, venture capital investor, Olasimbo Sojinrin, Country Director Solar Sister Nigeria, and Rolf Huber, Managing Director of the Siemens Stiftung and initiator of the e-mobility programme, acted as the jury for the competition.
“The large number and scope of the applications submitted show the huge social and economic potential of innovative technical solutions related to electric mobility,” expressed Rolf Huber. “We are convinced that local approaches create better access to basic services while creating permanent jobs – especially in rural areas.”
Marah Köberle, responsible for e-mobility at the Siemens Stiftung, adds: “We support the growth of social enterprises and are committed to closing financing gaps in the electric mobility sector in the process. Access to financing is an issue for all social enterprises, but in Africa it is often even more difficult. I’m excited to welcome the start-ups to our e-mobility network.” Appointment tip for all those interested in the winning projects: In the Foundation’s virtual discussion series “Spotlight On…” on 23 September 2021, the winners will present themselves with their e-mobility solutions.
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