Microsoft has developed a strategic approach; the Airband Grant Fund which is a part of the Microsoft’s Airband initiative. It provides grants to innovative entrepreneurs who are developing technologies or business models which enhances the internet access. Amongst the eight startups that were selected by the tech giant, these three mentioned African startups are to benefit from the funding to uplift the rural internet access.
MeshPower is believed to be an innovative power business that is committed to delivering social and environmental impact to the communities. Not only stands 20 percent world’s population with no electricity, but a far more significant share also have persistent power failures; Mesh power provides reliable and affordable electricity services to over 2,000 families, using its smart load system to manage the energy generated to ensure continuous functions, even on rainy days.
Since its inception in 2014, MeshPower has continuously used solar-powered nanogrids and smart metering systems to provide affordable electricity to communities without the access to energy. Other offers include Wireless, Skylark Wireless, Tribal Digital village and Numbers4Health (all from the US), and ME Solshshare from Bangladesh.
MeshPower claims to have created 20 full-time jobs in Rwanda since 2014 and is employing over 40 field based agents. Also, local vendors make money through selling MeshPower vouchers.
Agsol’s innovations crisscrosses at the lines of agriculture and energy. They are touted as one of the top innovations of the LAUNCH food programme. The company delivers a dual solution by linking productive agricultural machines with scalable solar power. Their tools are designed in Australia but engineered for off-grid and weak grid environments of emerging markets.
Their first 1st generation machines were released in 2015. After more than 600 sales and lots of feedback and iterations, Agsol’s solar-powered agro-processing machines are used for commercial solutions for the world’s most impoverished farms. One of the resolutions of the built machines is to remove the burden of laborious efforts. Agsol brings power to poor farmers with its line of solar-powered agro-processing machines such as hammer mill (for flour production), maize sheller, rice huller and food mincer. The machines projects and generation of income, and food processing to keep money in the community. The Agsol powered machines are green for life. Powered by solar and built for longevity, they replace the use of other fossil fuels, disposable batteries, and cooking fuels.
ColdHubs is powered cold storage for developing countries. Their innovation is a walk-in solution, “plug and plays” solar-powered cold station for 24/7 storage and preservation. The solar-powered walk-in cold room is made of 120mm insulating cold room panels to retain cold. Energy from solar panels mounted on the roof-top of the cold room is stored in high capacity batteries; these batteries fees an inverter which in turn feeds the refrigerating unit.
ColdHub is installed in major food production and consumption centre (in markets and farms), farmers place their harvest in clean plastic crates, these plastic crates are stacked inside the cold room.
It has a flexible pay-as you-store subscription model for farmers and they pay a flat fee for each crate of food they store. ColdHub mainly targets to hire women to manage operations send collection revenues and also tackles the issue of malnutrition in children at rural areas- more nutritious food is available to rural and urban residents.
Since many rural areas lack broadband access, it limits their ability to thrive in a digital economy. The Airband initiative brings affordable broadband access to everyone. It supports businesses working to enhance internet access and helps them to make the access more affordable. Airband partnerships include co-investment, and access to resources like technology, digital skills, and reseller programs. Microsoft Airband’s initiative is uplifting and arranges measure to boost these startups in helping and to provide affordable internet access to unconnected and underserved communities.
Feature Image courtesy: blog.microsoft.com