ARED-startup from Rwanda. (Photo Credit: Green Challenge)
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With a record number of 515 innovative entrepreneurs from no fewer than 89 countries having submitted their sustainable business plans aimed at combating climate change, 25 nominees were shortlisted and only 5 hand a chance to secure a place in the finale of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge; an annual competition organized by the Dutch Postcode Lottery to provide a helping hand to starting green entrepreneurs.

Notably, from the 25 nominees that were shortlisted, the African continent was represented by startups from Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ivory Coast. No submissions were received from Uganda which is so unfortunate.

However, with only 5 startups being selected as finalists, two Rwandan startups; ARED and EarthEnable made it and are set to go head-to-head with three other startups; Glowee from France, Ligthyear from Netherlands, and Pond from Denmark as they compete for the grand prize of €500,000 (approx. USD$587,000 or 2.2 Billion UGX).

All the finalists will present their business plans to an international jury, the press and the public on September 14th 2017 in Amsterdam, Netherlands – where the Grand Winner will go home with the grand prize of €500,000 (approx. USD$587,000 or 2.2 Billion UGX) while the runner-up will receive €200,000 (approx. USD$235,761 or 849.3 Million UGX).

“With the prize money we plan to scale within Rwanda and likely in three other countries. The prize money gives us the opportunity to test different scaling models to find a viable scale strategy to improve the health and lives of millions of people who are still living on dirt floors,” Gayatri Datar; Co-Founder at EarthEnable, said in a press statement.

“It’s amazing to be recognized as a green entrepreneur by such a competition in the field of sustainable innovation. The prize money enables us to scale up our business model and further improve the technology in the Shiriki Hubs,” Henri Nyakarundi; Founder of ARED, said in a press statement.

For the past 10 years, no startup from Africa has won this challenge. All hopes now go to the Rwandan startups to see if they can hold the crown on behalf of the African continent.

Startup finalist summary
  1. ARED is a Rwandan startup that developed a mobile solar kiosk, to bring low-cost connectivity and energy services to millions of Africans.
  2. Lightyear is a Netherlands’ start-up that is working on a fully solar-powered car and therefore isn’t relying on the infrastructure of charging stations to travel.
  3. Glowee is a startup from France that have created a biological source of light, using natural properties of marine micro-organisms.
  4. EarthEnable is also a Rwandan startup that offers a sustainable and affordable alternative for cement to replace dirt floors which are a major cause of disease, discomfort and indignity.
  5. Pond is a biotech company from Denmark, specialized in transforming products into fully bio based and biodegradable solutions.

Editor’s Note: Last year, Dutch’s PHYSEE; a startup that developed a ‘PowerWindow’ – a fully transparent energy-generating windows. A coating on the outside windowpane collects light that would normally be reflected, and solar cell strips in the window frame convert it into electricity.