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The winners of the 2018 joint All On - United States African Development Foundation (USADF) Off-Grid Energy Challenge were announced on Wednesday at the Nigerian Off-Grid Energy & Innovators Summit 2018 held in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The recipients in the mini-grid category are Havenhill, Prado, Solmenz, A4&T, and Darway Coast.

The enabling business category includes Auxano, Eastwind, and Alyx. Creeds and iKabin emerged as the recipients in the solar home system category.

According to Chuka Umezulora, CEO of Auxano, a company that assembles solar panels locally, "with the award of this blended finance, Auxano is poised to raise its daily production to more than 100 panels and double its staff strength to meet the rising demand. Beyond the financial relief that came with this funding, it has also exposed us to global best business practices as we continually improve in the way we conduct our business daily."

Off-grid energy challenge

The Off-Grid Energy Challenge is an initiative aimed at developing, scale-up or extend the use of renewable off-grid energy technologies to reach communities not served by existing power grids.

Through the challenge, development foundation provided $50,000 in seed capital while the investment company provided up to $50,000 in convertible debt to selected energy enterprises. Read more: Benin Electricity Distributor to pilot mini-grid systems in Edo State

In addition to funding, the winners will also receive technical assistance from USADF and governance support from All On.

“We are proud to partner with All On to foster the growth of local enterprises to bring power and connectivity to underserved Nigerians,” said C.D. Glin, USADF’S President & CEO.

“This partnership combines grant capital with private sector funding to support the selected Nigerian energy enterprises with the means to grow their businesses, increase access to power, and change people’s lives,” Glin added.

Innovative blended financing

According to Dr. Wiebe Boer, the CEO of Nigeria-based All On: “The biggest challenge hindering Nigeria’s economic and social development is access to energy. These off-grid energy companies are introducing innovations that will improve household livelihoods and local economies by providing affordable power to unserved and underserved communities.

“We are proud to partner with USADF to provide an innovative blend of financing to these companies to enable them to scale up and meet the increasing demand.”

Hannah Kabir of Creeds, a solar home system company, said, "The USADF-All On funds will facilitate the scale-up of our lease-to-own standalone solar systems to over 100 SMEs in Plateau and Rivers states, with affordable instalment repayments. By transitioning to standalone solar systems, SMEs save up to 50% on daily fuel spend on generators, which can be channelled into growing their business and productive activities."

“Congratulations to the winners and organizers of the 2018 Nigeria Off-Grid Energy Challenge,” said Damilola Ogunbiyi, MD and CEO Rural Electrification Agency.

“This is a remarkable initiative that demonstrates what we already know – that private sector taking a solution-driven role is the only way to provide sustainable power solutions for Nigerians. The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Rural Electrification Agency is currently replicating this model of private sector driven power projects through the Nigerian Off-Grid Electrification Strategy.”

The All On-USADF collaboration to co-finance innovative Nigerian off-grid energy companies is a three-year partnership to seed up to 30 companies in the country over the period.

The application window for the 2019 edition of the challenge will open in mid-January 2019.