Okra Solar brings renewable energy to underserved markets

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Okra Solar walked away with a trophy and a giant check at our Shenzhen Hardware Battlefield 2019 event. The moment is happily immortalized in a new press release announcing a new $2.1 million renewable energy startup round (that’s a good photo. Me too used it in this post). Clearly, we are not the only ones who saw a future in the company’s mission.

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The Sydney-based company creates hardware and software solutions designed to bring solar power to emerging markets. It is currently focusing on Nigeria, the Philippines, Haiti and Cambodia with the goal of an upgrade aimed at reducing emissions as it leads more people to connect. In particular, the company has developed Mesh-Grid, which distributes energy through an interconnected home network. The cloud-based system tracks usage and required maintenance while allowing for remote management.

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Image credits: Okra Solar

“The global population of people without any power is currently about 770 million,” CEO Callum Yap told TechCrunch. “These are the people who currently rely on fossil fuels (diesel and kerosene) for basic needs.”

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Explorer Investments and Didendum led the round, which also included Schneider Electric Energy Access and the Autodesk Foundation. The money will be used to expand production and research and development, as well as to the markets of Nigeria and Hattia. The number of staff will also increase. Okra currently employs 28 people and plans to increase this number to 35 by the end of the year.

Following this announcement (labeled as a “pre-Series A”), the company is already gearing up for a Series A that it hopes will hit $6 million. This will help expand the staff to 50-60 employees.

Image credits: Okra Solar

“It’s great to lock in this funding so we can accelerate our growth,” CEO Afnan Khannan says in a press release. “Our Mesh networks use the Internet of Things and automation to make last mile electrification affordable and sustainable – even for the most remote villages on the planet. Our innovations have spurred global demand from utilities.”

The company has also actively partnered with local governments to accelerate the adoption of its technologies.

“In Nigeria, our technology has been approved for grants from a $550 million fund set up by the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Rural Electrification Agency,” says Yap. “This is helping Nigerian developers to quickly adopt our technologies with government subsidies, simply because solar-powered Okra Mesh-Grids are the only solution that delivers sustainable productive capacity to last mile communities.”


Credit: techcrunch.com /

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