London, 1 December 2016 – BuffaloGrid uses solar energy provide affordable mobile power and Internet service to off-grid Asian and African communities
With operations in Asia, Solar energy provider Buffalo Grid has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) by committing to reach 27 million people with solar energy and reduce global CO2 emissions by 11,771 tons while creating jobs for 74,000 local entrepreneurs – all by 2020.
Launched in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
There are over 1.4 billion people globally without access to power and more than 95 percent of them live in Sub-Sahara Africa or in developing Asia. Nearly 500 million people worldwide have a mobile phone but no access to the electricity grid. Most off-grid power in developing regions is provided through highly unsustainable fossil-fueled methods, and internet connectivity is exceptionally limited. Off-grid mobile phone users must often travel 15-20 km to the nearest third-party charging kiosk.
Like in developed nations, staying connected is increasingly important for communities in developing countries. A fully charged phone can allow them to do everything from getting the best prices for their produce to connecting with relatives in an emergency.
Founded in 2011, BuffaloGrid’s inclusive business model combines solar power, mobile money, wifi and cellular technologies while supporting small entrepreneurship. To reach its enormous off-grid market, the company developed a unique solar-powered hub system in which mobile phones (or other devices) can be charged through a central server. These hubs also provide rural communities with reliable and affordable access to mobile communication and internet connectivity.
The hubs are operated by small entrepreneurs – called agents – who can take advantage of BuffaloGrid’s emerging partnerships with online service providers to establish e-education or e-health services in their communities. The local agents can also use these hubs to promote side businesses such as selling newspapers, food, tea and household accessories. In this way, each hub functions as a community small-business and communication centre.
BuffaloGrid aims to deploy 70,000 of these hubs in India and sub-Saharan Africa by 2020, and has plans to bring hubs to refugee camps across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Each hub is provided cost-free to agents, who receive 30 percent of their total revenue.
“Seeing the remarkable success of mobile networks in connecting underserved populations, we were eager to utilize this technology to reach remote communities,” said Daniel Becerra, CEO of BuffaloGrid. “But rather than thinking about how to get remote customers to pay for energy, we began by identifying how can make life easier for them. Our profitability is completely attached to the benefits our services bring to off-grid communities.”
Once the company’s hubs are firmly established, BuffaloGrid plans to add additional services, including the provision of lights, radio and TV, personal authentication (for voting, property sales and other private transactions) and micropayments for household utilities.
“By combining renewable power and internet connectivity, BuffaloGrid’s inclusive business model is enabling off-grid communities to access a range of other critical services,” said Paula Peleaz, who heads the Business Call to Action. This scalable business model not only supports entrepreneurship, it is connecting remote communities to a wealth of new opportunities.”
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Membership in the Business Call to Action does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.
About the Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.
About BuffaloGrid: Founded in 2011, BuffaloGrid is dedicated to serving the 1 billion people around the world without electrical power. Nearly 750 million of them already have mobile phones, but do not have access to the electricity needed to charge them or get online. BuffaloGrid provides off-grid communities with an accessible, affordable solar-based solution without the up-front cost of buying a personal solar panel. Its customers benefit from greater business opportunities, better education prospects and a wealth of information provided by increased connectivity. Its agents – local entrepreneurs – benefit from the income generated by every mobile phone charge and the opportunities this creates for additional business. Partner companies can also benefit from reaching an untapped market for e-services. For more information, visit: http://buffalogrid.com.
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