#SET100 at WEC24 – Road to Abu Dhabi Interview: Havenhill Synergy
July 15, 2019
As part of the SET Award 2019, the top 100-ranked start-ups who applied for the SET Award were rewarded the opportunity to participate and showcase as part of the Innovation Hub at the 24th World Energy Congress (WEC24) 2019 in Abu Dhabi. Sponsored by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, this incredible opportunity includes travel and accommodation expenses, and a showcase space for the SET100 at the congress.
In the lead up to WEC24, we asked the participating SET100 start-ups to answer a few questions to provide potential partners the opportunity to learn more about them and to also help other start-ups learn from their experiences. We thank them for their work toward the global energy transition and for sharing with us the following insights.
#SET100 Start-up: Havenhill Synergy (Nigeria)
Havenhill Synergy is a cleantech utility company that uses solar energy to generate clean, safe, cost-effective and sustainable electricity in rural Nigeria. We believe in the potential of the sun in powering Africa’s most populous nation. We deploy a community-level centralized smart solar mini-grid system as a sustainable solution to the electricity poverty in rural communities.
Traveling, pitching, partaking in meetings, and networking requires considerable time and effort. Other than perhaps being given a blank check, what is the best case scenario or result you as a start-up hope to get out of participating in initiatives such as the SET platform and the Innovation Hub at the 24th World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi?
At the 24th World Energy Congress, we hope to develop relationships that could foster business opportunities and collaboration towards improving energy access in a clean, sustainable and cost-effective manner.
Given the stage of your start-up and your particular focus/sector/technology, what is one challenge that you have overcome or lesson that you have learned that may be valuable to other similar start-ups?
Improving energy access with renewables is a great solution. As a profit-making business, the size of a community does not determine high or low revenues. In retrospect, we would have chosen a more commercially viable community for our very first mini-grid project. A commercially viable community increases the sustainability of mini-grids through consistent electricity consumption which leads to consistent revenue. Therefore, the best approach should be focused on identifying and selecting communities with a good mix of commercial and productive users. In addition, do not over-estimate the purchasing power of energy users as only commercial & productive users already operating their businesses with fossil fuel can guarantee ability, willingness and commitment to pay for electricity used.
What is one of the main obstacles or regulations that you have had to overcome prior to, or in preparation of market entry into your given business environment?
Access to finance is a major challenge in the off-grid renewable energy sector in Nigeria. Most of the capital (debt) available in the country do not support our business model, there was significantly no equity funding when we started. Fortunately, we overcame this challenge through the grant funding we received from United States African Development Foundation some years back which we then used to develop our pilot mini-grid.
Thanks for reading and thanks again to Havenhill Synergy. More information about them can be found here: http://havenhillsynergy.com/
More about the SET100, including a full list of each SET100 start-up can be found here.