News | December 18, 2017

IEEE Awards $1.2M For Off-Grid Energy Entrepreneurs

Projects to Receive Funding in 2017-2018 for Sustainable Energy Businesses in Africa, Papua New Guinea, and India; Goal to Provide Electricity and Educational Opportunities for Millions

Piscataway, NJ /PRNewswire/ - IEEE, the world's largest technical professional organization advancing technology for humanity, announced that IEEE Smart Village (ISV) has granted $1.2 million in new funds for selected sustainable energy projects with a potential life-changing impact on up to seven million people around the world. ISV, an IEEE Foundation Priority Initiative, is dedicated to promoting sustainable energy and access to educational and entrepreneurial opportunities in energy-impoverished locations around the world. The funded projects are in Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, India, and Papua New Guinea.

The projects leverage technology to better the lives of the communities where the systems are located. This year's projects include AC and DC solar powered micro-grids; a next generation portable battery kit that will provide lighting for extremely remote homes; local computer servers and an intra-net delivery system to enable a low-cost curriculum in the local schools; long range Wi-Fi that will allow some locations to tap into the World Wide Web; and one project will include a portable food press that will allow the villagers to process food for better year-round nutrition and be an income source for their families.

Previously funded ISV's projects have directly impacted more than 70,000 people and have proven ISV's business model, which is based on community empowerment, education, and business ownership. Using the base of IEEE global volunteers, the ISV program brings together experienced engineers, educators, volunteers, and donors to provide initial funding to launch, sustain, and develop clean energy and to power advanced education systems. The goal is to empower communities to meet their own long-term needs. ISV is scaling its efforts to bring basic electrical services that help enable transformational opportunities and support community wellbeing – from homes to schools to clinics to businesses – such efforts are expected to benefit more than 50 million people by 2025.

"All over the world, hundreds of millions of people in remote villages lack basic access to electricity," said Ray Larsen, co-chair of the ISV program. "IEEE Smart Village aims to make a big impact. Clean, reliable electricity in a sustainable, scalable business model is key to enabling a better quality of life. Partnerships with major organizations such as Rotary are being developed to bring a full range of basic sustainable business benefits. We aim to make a major contribution to the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) to eliminate the worst of world poverty by 2030."

This year's recipients were selected from a pool of 30 applicants based on feasibility of their proposed projects, ability to leverage initial funding into a sustainable business plan, incorporation of educational programs, plan for growth to scale, and potential to impact one million people in a five- year timeframe after a successful pilot program.

2017-2018 Off-Grid Energy Entrepreneurs:

  • Africa Development Promise, Uganda
    Uganda has one of the lowest rates of access to electricity in Africa: about 14 percent at the national level and about 10 percent in rural areas. This project focuses on rural women's entrepreneurship and empowerment by providing hands-on training on the solar equipment, new farming techniques enabled by powered irrigation, and cooperative food drying, packaging, and sales. Investment in solar energy will allow villagers to connect digitally and take advantage of community-based learning to bolster agricultural cooperatives, maximizing the country's burgeoning mushroom production and providing steady income for families.
  • Green Village Electricity (GVE) Projects Limited, Nigeria
    Inadequate power supply, adverse global climatic changes and a low standard of living have been major concerns in Nigeria, where currently only 40% of the population has access to electricity. Building on the success of IEEE Smart Village-funded pilot projects, additional electrification will provide holistic, sustainable development in 11 local communities and foster the incubation of a projected 650 new businesses. A PAYGO (Pay-as-you-Go) metering system helps foster a successful business model. The power from the solar micro-grid will run a local grain mill, eliminating the 20 km walk to nearest existing mill. Other benefits include improved education, improved rural health care, an increase in living standards and local productivity. GVE Projects is well established and this award is to help leverage new investment for growth to reach a million people in the next 3-4 years.
  • PNG Community Transformation Center, Papua New Guinea
    Electrification is a life-changing factor for the people of PNG, who rely on candles, kerosene lamps, and wood fires for lighting. During the rainy season, women and children spend their time in dark, smoky huts. Children are unable to study after dusk and are exposed to lung and eye damage. Additionally, 68% of the rural population lacks access to clean drinking water. This project, in conjunction with Rotary International, will establish community transformation centers for adult education and life-skills training. The solar Micro grids will allow these communities to access locally stored management training for business owners to thrive, view lesson plans through a local intranet, and have a hosted server for local content creation. The Rotary WASH curriculum will also be stored on the server for training at preschool and up. A medical clinic and child birthing center will be powered as part of the program. The use of Universal Portable Battery Kits (UPBK) will provide lights in the community huts thereby avoiding health hazards and enhancing productivity by providing light in evening hours.
  • Shakti Empowerment Solutions, India
    Eastern Uttar Pradesh is one of India's most underdeveloped regions and statistics show child mortality, literacy, gender disparity, income and employment are among India's worst. Shakti Empowerment Solutions (SES) works with a threefold approach of social enterprise, education and community support and through the ISV funding, SES's initial pilot program will fund a solar social enterprise as well as the expansion of a community center offering modern, digital education and community services. The pilot includes power for homes and businesses via both portable battery kits and an AC Microgrid. Via solar, onsite additional enterprises will be powered, such as a water purification unit and eco-friendly community transportation. ISV projects will aim to relieve energy poverty in this region of rural India and improve education, business opportunities and living standards in an environmentally beneficial way as it expands to reach a million people.
  • Shaybis Nigeria, Ltd. Nigeria
    Deep in the Kwara state of north central Nigeria lies the village of Lajolo where there are no plans for extending the state power grid for the foreseeable future. ISV is providing hope for the community in the form of an 8.5 Kw solar micro-grid as a first pilot. Initial funding will power a school, irrigate gardens, and enable refrigeration for the first time at a local general store. Discussions with the Kwara State University and the University of Ilorin are underway to use this village as a hands-on opportunity for the Electrical Engineering students to gain practical knowledge of real-world deployments.
  • Renewable Energy Innovators – Cameroon (REIc)
    Eleven thousand people will benefit from the two phases of the REIc project in Cameroon. The first phase deploys IEEE Smart Village SunBlazer technology. Phase I uses a mixed-grid approach. The first grid supplies 24v DC for low voltage lighting and DC charging. A second grid is a dedicated AC line to the commercial center of the villages powering small enterprises such as barbering machines, refrigeration and phone charging booths. Phase II increases the capacity of an existing solar micro-grid by 170%, bringing transformative power to over 50 community businesses and 14 schools in the area.
  • Torchbearer Foundation dba Igniting Africa, Cameroon
    Farming practices in rural villages is extremely labor intensive; solar electricity will allow automation of activities like irrigation and grain crushing, freeing women and girls to pursue educational opportunities while reducing overall hunger, improving food security, and dramatically reducing greenhouse gases associated with burning kerosene. This project is funding an innovative Mobile Power Plant for Agriculture which will provide a traveling food processer, grain crusher, oil press, and other agricultural food processing tools. The plan is expected to enable off-season growing and food storage, enhancing the year-round cash flow of the village women. This program has received modest ISV support in the past and the new funds are to foster expansion and growth.

Opportunities to Donate:
Funding for all ISV projects comes from donations to the IEEE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. Numerous technical, administrative and operational volunteers support the effort. Should you wish to donate please visit the following URL:

About IEEE Smart Village
IEEE Smart Village integrates sustainable electricity, education, and entrepreneurial solutions to directly assist off-grid communities to become self-sufficient. Through a global network of local entrepreneurs, expert engineers and passionately dedicated volunteers, we work in partnership with community and other change agents to help empower local economies, create job opportunities, and foster education programs that help communities around the world to learn how to continually improve their quality of life. Learn more at

About IEEE
IEEE is the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities, IEEE is the trusted voice in a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers, and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power, and consumer electronics. Learn more at


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