October 9, 2013, Accra, Africa – SMEFunds ‘Green Energy & Biofuels’ (Nigeria) has been named the best clean energy investment opportunity in West Africa and overall winner at the West Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing Business Plan competition in Accra. The competition assessed business plans from all clean energy sectors across West Africa in two elimination rounds. The final round brought the top ten companies among the 72 applications received to Accra where they were judged by representatives from major international organizations such as Leo Blyth (IFC, Lighting Africa Initiative), Musa Salah (EcoBank), Godfrey Mwindaare (Acumen Fund West Africa), Professor Joseph Adelegan (EBID), and Sander Smits van Oyen (SOVEC).
Green Energy & Biofuels stood out due to the established track record of SMEFunds, innovative technology and the ability to scale quickly. The $28 million investment in the first round will go towards scaling up their renewable ethanol cooking gel production and clean cookstove manufacturing. Already over 500,000 liters of cooking gel has been produced locally using Cellulosic Bio-Ethanol technology from wastes such as water-hyacinth and sawdust from Lagos saw mills. SMEFunds has already recruited over 15,000 entrepreneurs through its Carbon Credit Network and helped them start green businesses that sell the cooking gel and stoves across Nigeria and West Africa. More youth and women stand ready to bring safer, stable green energy to their communities once the scale-up is reached.
The Climate Technology Initiative Private Financing Advisory Network (CTI PFAN), the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), and the Regional Clean Energy Investment Initiative (RCEII) of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and SEFA supported the competition. The business plan was assessed thoroughly after benefitting from a 6 month program which provided development and structuring, the preparation of bankable business plans and investor pitches from professional advisors, clean energy investors and commercial banks. SMEFunds is now working with top investors and financiers to back their waste-to- ethanol cooking fuel expansion.
“People are hungry for good alternatives to kerosene and other unsafe, dirty cooking fuels,” states SMEFunds Co- founder and CEO Femi Oye. “We started with the simple belief that cooking shouldn't kill. Why should our women cook with tears?”
SMEFunds plans to reach over 10 million households across West Africa with clean cooking and renewable energy technologies.