CEO Explains How to Launch a Technology Start-Up in Tanzania – And Raise $48m in Funding

Lowe Business Blog

Whilst many start-ups have a strong vision of using technology to drive positive social change, Xavier Helgesen, CEO of start-up Off-Grid Electric, is a serial social entrepreneur taking the reverse route. Whilst insisting Off Grid are a “for-profit technology company first” the drive for positive social change by providing power to Africa is his inspiration behind starting the Tanzanian based company. Having recently raised over $45m in funding from top investors like Solar City, Vulcan Capital and Segal Family Foundation, he says the aim is “not to reach one million homes in Africa” with power for the first time, but to reach “a hundred million homes”. It is an audacious claim that demonstrates the ambition of Xavier and his founding team to change the fortunes of huge swathes of rural Africa.

Off Grid Electric deliver solar-powered, electricity generating systems that are implemented to help a household meet basic energy…

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From Accra to the Garden City

KumasiChallenges Worldwide are pleased to announce that in June we will be expanding our operations in Ghana to the “Garden City” of Kumasi.

For the sustainable growth of Ghana, it is vital there are healthy and successful small and medium size businesses all over the country. Kumasi is the commercial, industrial and cultural capital of the region and therefore a great place for Challenges Worldwide to offer support to growing businesses by:

1. Empowering the people who start and run them
2. Upskilling the people who work for them
3. Connecting trade and investment organisations to them
4. Accrediting each step of this interrelated learning journey

We will be working closely with Kumasi Hive (an innovation hub supporting makers and entrepreneurs in Ghana to quickly prototype their ideas and develop products that can be brought to market) to identify SME’s who can benefit from key business analysis and recommendations which have the potential to lead to trade linkages and access to finance and investment.
Kumasi is home to KNUST, the country’s foremost technical university. Many of its graduates go on to found start-ups –but they move to Accra when they do so.By working together, Challenges Worldwide and Kumasi Hive hope to not only encourage and support talented young Ghanaian’s to stay in Kumasi to start their business venture, but also to ensure they are able to access the same internationally recognised backing that is available in the capital.

If you would like to give Ghanaian entrepreneurs the support they need to grow, back Kumasi Hive on Kickstarter.


The Power of Business Mentoring

Lowe Business Blog

Whilst volunteering with Challenges Worldwide in Zambia earlier this year, I was placed on a project with in-country volunteer Emmanuel, a recent graduate. Beyond being a great personality to be around, he had this strong hunger to learn and improve despite having little previous experience in business, particularly in a consultancy role.

Over the course of three months, we worked together to improve his communication skills, presentation abilities and technical capabilities. His rate of improvement was fast, and the company we were working with were so impressed as to offer him a role at the end of our placement. Being able to impart some of my knowledge and skills to him, and watch this improvement, was the most pleasing element of my entire placement.

This mentoring benefitted both of us hugely in terms of hard and soft skills improved. Emmanuel gained presentation, PowerPoint and Excel skills, whilst I improved my…

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I am a volunteer of challenges worldwide.

At the beginning of this programme I knew I was going to help alleviate poverty in my country(Ghana), I knew I was going to get a certificate from Challenges which would strengthen my application to do my masters in Germany,I knew I was going to start-up my own business in the future when I was in my 50s or 60s.

Now  I’ve got twenty-one days till the end of this programme.

I never knew I would want to begin my business at age 24!! I never realised my true potential, how smart I was and how I’ve been holding myself back all this while with limited dreams, I really never realised how easy it was to begin your own business . Never realised i wouldn’t want to work for anyone, rather have people working for me meaning creating job opportunities for people in my Country.

I have and am still working as a consultant at an SME which is an Agro processing business, I never knew I’d feel the owners heart cry ‘help’ i never knew I’d want to give my all and more to help her get everything in place by the end of this programme. I never knew this programme was also meant to find us young people to turn us into transformational leaders.

I never knew id be awake at 2:01am about to post this blog.