The EEP S&EA series of publications on Innovative Business Models highlights successful business models created by EEP project developers. The series on Innovative Business Models aims to share lessons learned and provide innovative ideas to RE/EE sector. The ideas from the Innovative Business Models could be replicated or used as innovation in other renewable energy sectors. The IBM’s published so far introduce key innovations in the payment model of cookstoves, an entrepreneur model targeting the very poor customer segments with LED-lights, a turn-key service model in boiler/furnace conversion and a breakthrough technology combining clean cooking with device charging. Take a closer look at the Innovative Business Models below.
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Innovative Business Model: BioLite
With its innovative biomass cookstove technology, BioLite can address multiple energy needs (ie. cooking, charging, lighting) simultaneously and cost-effectively. The breakthrough technology is in the thermoelectric design that captures waste heat from the fire and converts it into usable electricity to power and internal fan. Surplus electricity from cooking sessions is sent to a USB port for charging mobile phones or LED lights. HomeStove is a device which attracts customers in rural as well as urban areas by serving a variety of needs in households.
After the demo phase in Uganda BioLite wanted to scale up its sales and established a fruitful partnership with a Ugandan telecommunications company Telecom. The robust network of shops, built-in infrastructure and visibility of the BioLite brand alongside to Telecom’s other modern technology products has greatly benefited both parties. With the help and support of the EEP S&EA BioLite has successfully established several core partnerships in both Uganda and Kenya. By embedding BioLite’s own field staff into these channels to provide product demonstrations, customer training, and after-sales service, BioLite has been able to strengthen both sales and partner satisfaction.
One of the Lean Solutions Energy Group (Lean) highlights is the successful Boiler/Furnace Conversion programme. The programme aims at 25% savings in energy costs by offering two solutions, conversion of existing fossil fuel boilers or furnaces to Lean Briqs fed boilers and furnaces or alternatively, for very old boilers, installation of a new lean fired boiler set. The eco-friendly Lean Briqs are non-carbonized briquettes produced from charcoal dust and agricultural waste including sugar cane remains, saw dust and coffee husks.
The innovative business model Lean has developed for the boilers is based on four steps: Build, Own, Operate and Transfer – the BOOT model. The unique solution of the BOOT model is that Lean takes the full responsibility of the investment and the boiler that is located at the facilities of the client. Lean owns the boiler and is in-charge of building and operating the boiler.
The BOOT model is highly replicable and the boiler conversions can be efficiently implemented. In addition to positive results through employment opportunities and reductions in use of petroleum-based fuels, the EEP funding is expected to achieve a catalysing effect that will enable up to 30 boiler conversion projects within the next three years.
Nuru Energy (“Nuru”) provides Rwanda’s rural households with access to sustainable, off-grid energy solutions. Nuru’s business model provides not only access to affordable energy, but also a platform to develop rural entrepreneurship. The new, environmentally safe product offering involves four key components: LED task lights, 60W solar panel, POWERCycle pedal generator and the Octopus Charger.
The Nuru business model is successful because it considers the local conditions and needs for an off-grid solution specifically tailored for households living below the poverty line. By studying the characteristics of kerosene or flashlights for light consumption and leveraging off the examples from telecoms and collaborative consumption businesses, Nuru can offer affordable LED lights to lowest income consumers and opportunities for village-level entrepreneurs to grow their own business whilst Nuru can generate revenue through the energy credit system.
Nuru has by today successfully set up over 700 village-level entrepreneurs with an off-grid recharging platform, that serves over 800 villages, and has distributed close to 100,000 LED lights.
Inyenyeri is a for-profit renewable energy company, whose mission is to break the cycle of energy poverty, through the provision of a fuel and Fan Gasifying Cook Stove solution, which can be sustainably scaled to serve more than 2 million Rwandan households.
The Innovative Business Model by Inyenyeri is closely followed by other pellet producers in Southern and East Africa. As many pellet producers are struggling with the demand side of the business the Inyenyeri Business Model could be the solution that creates the demand. If Inyenyeri succeeds in growing their business according to their plans to provide for over 25,000 households by early 2018 and returning strong profits, this could turn out to be an ground-breaking model for the pellet market.