MECS Awards Second Round of Innovation Fund Grants
In 2013, we launched the GSMA’s MECS Innovation Grant Fund with the support of the UK Government. Our goal, to award £2.4M in grants to organisations trialling and developing innovations that improve access to energy and water to underserved communities by leveraging mobile technology and infrastructure.
We have been overwhelmed with the response to our calls for applications, receiving a total of 200 concept notes from across the globe. The positive response to the MECS Innovation Grant Fund indicates the growing acceptance of the role that mobile technology can play as an enabler to sustainable community services and infrastructure and signals the need for more risk capital to develop commercially-viable models.
MECS Innovation Fund Grantees:
African Solar Designs – Kenya
African Solar Designs , in partnership with Airtel Kenya, will provide renewable power to an Airtel base station and also electrify a nearby community though a micro-grid for businesses and an energy kiosk for households to access charging and solar products. This seed grant will trial the community power from mobile model, generating lessons about this business opportunity for a rural energy service company.
Easypaisa – Pakistan
Easypaisa, a joint venture of Telenor Pakistan and Tameer Bank will introduce an affordable, solar energy service to low income groups through an Islamic leasing model. The Seed grant will help Easypaisa to validate the business case for its unique offering and test its credit scoring methodology for leasers of high value systems.
Eco Energy Finance (EEF) – Pakistan
Eco Energy Finance (EEF), in partnership with Karachi Relief Trust, will test the sale of high-quality solar products to un-electrified communities through the use of SMS and UBL OMNI’s mobile payment service. This Seed grant will explore whether providing solar equipment on daily loan increases the adoption of clean energy solutions.
Emergence BioEnergy (EBI) – Bangladesh
Emergence BioEnergy (EBI), in partnership with Grameenphone, and BRAC Dairy, will test EBI’s Stirling generator to produce electricity from agricultural waste for telecom towers and surrounding communities. This Seed grant will trial reliable power generation by small-scale biogas plants and test the supply chain.
Fenix International – Uganda
Fenix International, in partnership with MTN Uganda, will scale their new pay-as-you-go system “ReadyPay Power ” to enable solar-powered lighting and phone charging. This market validation grant will test the introduction of ReadyPay home and business products through joint marketing and distribution with MTN.
Kamworks – Cambodia
Kamworks Limited, in partnership with WING, a mobile money operator, and CamGSM (through its CellCard brand) will test rental services for solar home systems in Cambodia. The Seed grant will help trial the technology, test the value proposition and study payment behaviour in the Cambodian market.
NextDrop – India
NextDrop intends to build and trial a Water Information System (WIS) for the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to track, monitor and validate water distribution timings, frequency or duration in real time. The system will be based on two-way communications between BWSSB and city residents. This Seed grant will test whether real-time information improves the reliability of water supply and ensures equitable distribution.
Nova Lumos – Guinea and Nigeria
Nova Lumos will partner with MTN Nigeria and Cellcom Guinée to launch a new pay-as-you-go solar product via mobile operator’s airtime. In this seed grant, large and modular solar home systems are targeted to home and small business users. Lessons will be generated about customer demand and pricing in these markets and benefits to mobile operators associated with a more significant role.
Persistent Energy Ghana – Ghana
Persistent Energy Ghana, in partnership with Tigo, Airtel and MTN, will provide pre-paid solar energy services to six villages in Ghana using a micro-grid system and solar home systems within one business. Both technologies have already been tested and are being used in Tanzania. This market validation grant will test the possibility of scaling an energy service business in a new market more quickly by applying proven, 3rd party technologies.
Upcoming Webinars: Sector Trends
As stated last year, we were overwhelmed with the positive response to our calls for applications, receiving a total of 200 concept notes from across the globe. We will (finally) be hosting a series of webinars, in March, to share our insights from the pool of concept notes we received. You can sign-up for the webinars below:
Date: Thursday, March 13, 2014
Time 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM GMT
Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Time: 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM GMT
MWC: The Changing Role of Mobile in Extending Access to Energy & Water Services
We would also like to take this opportunity to highlight our upcoming roundtable at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Tuesday February 25th. If you are in Barcelona for MWC and would like to attend, please email Helene Smertnik.