Sometimes is better to start from scratch with a simple idea and low margins. Combine these two points with an interest for Africa, development and you’ll discover a brilliant startup called “Station Energy“.
Conceived by a young French entrepreneur, Station Energy is aimed to bring electricity to African villages which, for many reasons, are lacking of it. If we consider the numbers, all over the world there are 1.6 billion people living without electricity (almost a quarter of humanity) and 547Millions of them are living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The idea of Alexandre Castel and his two associated is springing from the fact that a medium Sub-saharan family is spending almost 10€/month on expensive and inefficient solutions like candles, petrol lamps and one-use-only batteries. Station Energy proposes them an efficient, rechargeable and more durable solution.
This solution comprehends an “Energy Station” which produces electric energy thanks to solar panels and small wind systems. This energy is distributed to privated and shops in the villages stocked in reusable batteries. The electricity is brought to the villages in security carters to the villagers which only need to exchange their old empty batteries with fully charged ones. The price is extremely cheap (approximately 0.5€ for lightning a three stores house for a week) but the price of the battery and the tension regulator is much higher (up to 1000€, price which rarely an African family can afford).
That’s where another great idea comes in. Station Energy recently made a partnership with MicroCred (a French company created in 2005 which helps developing countries thanks to microcredit solutions). Thanks to this alliance, the kits are proposed in leasing and, in order to avoid dishonored payments, they are provided of a Sim Card. It allows the company to cut-down the kits if the clients are not paying their debts. What’s more, in the future, this partnership should take advantage of the worldwide presence of MicroCred.
At the moment the company is well implanted in Senegal and Ivory Coast and is creating a dossier to present to the European Union, pledging for fundings (and I would be happy that my tax money could be used for this kind of innovative projects), in order to open 50 “Solar Shops” in Hivory Coast.
Finally, in order to understand the real impact of this startup, on January the 6th, the numbers are*:
- 13 franchises in Senegal
- 2 shop selling frozen goods equipped with SA solar systems
- 10 distributors in Ivory Coast and (soon) the same number in Burkina Faso
- And a 2014 forecast of 1,5M€ revenues (5 times more compared to 2013)
*as reported in the newspaper LeMonde