In a previous post, I talked about how I was selected alongside 18 others as winners of the Smart Energy Challenge 2017 organised by the Swedish Institute. It involved submission of ideas geared towards encouraging people to use less energy and more sustainably. In that post, I said I’ll let you know about the idea I submitted. So, I’m going to talk about it here. It’s open source, so, anyone can run with it, modify it and apply it in her/his own context. Note that, the idea is not a well-developed one, it will require a lot of iterations to be applicable.
I called it ElecTriCycle. Traffic jams are big problems in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, they can add 4 hours to your daily commute. That’s a lot of productivity lost in smoke-filled congestions of petrol-guzzling vehicles. Most Nigerian homes have electricity generators which are used to supplement inadequate electricity supply. And petrol tricycles are quite popular vehicles for passenger transportation in Nigeria. Why not address all these problems and opportunities with just one idea? That’s where ElecTriCycle comes in. A company is set up, owns a fleet of electric tricycles, employs drivers, passengers share rides in the tricycles and earn points for each ride. When the points reach a particular level, passengers earn a solar power system for their homes which they pay for with a monthly subscription fee that is way less than whatever they currently pay for electricity. The drivers also earn a solar power system after driving a particular number of miles. Meanwhile, the electric tricycles are charged at solar-powered charging stations located in different localities. Considering how expensive the vehicles will be or solar power systems are, will this idea be feasible? Well, that’s why it’s here, anyone can take it up and assess the feasibility. Let me know if you find out something interesting.
As prize for winning the challenge, we were invited to Stockholm for a 2-day pitch training session facilitated by staff of the Social Entrepreneurship Forum from 16-17 November. It involved series of sessions of how to effectively pitch business ideas to different audiences. There was an inspiration session where a representative of Watty, a smart energy start-up in Stockholm, intimated us with how the company helps consumers smartly manage their energy use.
There was also a visit to Solvatten, another Stockholm-based startup, that helps people in mostly developing regions of the world get access to clean, hot water for domestic use. Meanwhile, Solvatten is Swedish for “sun water” in the literal sense. The company manufactures black jerry can-looking containers that help purify and heat up up water when exposed to the sun. When we got to their office, we saw hanging on their walls, pictures of President Obama checking out their cool product when he visited Stockholm in 2013. I mean, who wouldn’t proudly tout that kind of picture. 🙂
After the visit, we took a walk through the famous Gamla Stan to have lunch at the Nobel Museum.
Later that day, we pitched our ideas to staff of the Swedish Institute at their office, just opposite the Swedish Royal Palace (official residence of the Swedish monarchy). Two valuable days, well-spent in the Swedish capital.
All these are opportunities you get as a Swedish Institute scholarship recipient, even after you finish your Master’s studies. Some of the winners of the challenge have actually finished their programmes in Sweden.
You don’t want to miss this. Call for applications have already been made for the next round. Visit the Swedish Institute website here.