These past few years, we have borne witness to the devastating consequences of the ongoing climate change across the globe. These range from health risks due to heat waves to increased hunger and even water crises.
Due to increased consumer awareness of social and environmental issues, more businesses are feeling the pressure to address these concerns and are seeking out ways to meet customer demand. Some are leveraging technology to manufacture environmentally-friendly products while others are establishing business policies that ensure supply chain transparency and encourage social good.
Then there are the big multinational companies with global supply chains and intensive production processes stepping in to reduce their carbon emissions. For instance, Microsoft has pledged to remove its carbon footprint emissions (dating back to 1975) over the next 30 years while Uber has raised $800 million to help transition their drivers into fully electric vehicles by 2025.
As more Western companies assume roles in building a cleaner and greener future, there are also a rising number of green start-ups in Africa that are stepping into the burgeoning ‘green’ economy.
Nigeria’s first plant-based food company VeggieVictory has been bringing people a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle through plant-based meats and veganized Nigerian culinary delicacies since 2013.
Since its incorporation, VeggieVictory has proven to all that it’s the “next frontier” for the global plant-based movement by using its resources to launch new plant-based meat offerings on the market. In February, the company closed its pre-seed round of funding from a number of US-based and European venture capital firms.
The Lagos-based startup plans to use the proceeds to continue expanding its plant-based portfolio, with products such as vegan beef jerky to join its existing range, which includes soy-based hot dogs, tofu scrambles, meatless burger patties and shawarmas, as well as tailored Nigerian cuisine dishes, such as efo riro stews with vegan meat.
2. Phyto Pro
Born from a search of integrated medicine in Cape Town, South Africa, this green startup specializes in the production of plant-based protein products made from peas, for consumer and medical consumption. According to the Phyto Pro founder Dr Singh, pea protein contains all essential amino acids, and displays improved digestibility and assimilation compared with animal alternatives.
Protein is necessary for growth and healing and Phyto Pro aims to help people transition away from animal food products and supplements that often contain antibiotic, heavy metal and hormonal contaminants to formulations that are completely plant-based but still provide optimal health benefits.
Founded in 2012, South African company Mellowcabs manufactures and operates new electric mini-cabs that provide an on-demand, flexible and affordable taxi and transport service in cities. Attracting investors such as LaunchLab and the GIST Network, these vehicles are aimed at providing affordable, efficient, and emissions-free transport in cities.
Operating the vehicles is also significantly more efficient and therefore more affordable than traditional fuel-burning taxis. It fills the gap for commuters needing micro transport within a three mile radius, and can easily be booked via the Mellowcabs app, call centre or website.
Motorcycle taxis, locally known as boda bodas, account for over 40% of the trips in Uganda’s capital Kampala. The country represents one of the largest importers of motorcycles in East Africa, with over 600,000 boda bodas. In Kampala alone, there are roughly 150,000 drivers earning their daily income by driving a conventional boda boda, serving a population of approximately two million people.
In 2017, noticing a gap for cleaner transport in the Ugandan market, engineers Daniel Dreher and Etienne Saint Serin launched Zembo Motorcycle. The company offers electric motorcycles (e-motorbikes) and battery-recharging solar stations to boda-boda drivers. The drivers can acquire motorcycles on a rent-to-own basis with safe and high capacity lithium batteries emitting no CO2 and no pollution. The batteries are recharged in 3-4 hours with solar energy at charging stations across the city, where a full battery charge can last 50-80km.
Their battery swap model means that drivers do not need to buy vehicle batteries, or wait around while they recharge. Drivers can rent batteries and replace a discharged battery for a newly charged one in under two minutes at the various battery stations. Zembo also offers an affordable lease-to-own solution where drivers who lease vehicles become owners after two years.
Established in 2010 by CEO Olusegun Odunaiya, Havenhill is a cleantech Nigerian startup that focuses on improving access to electricity in rural areas using mini-grids. The company also offers renewable energy services for businesses in Nigeria’s industrial and commercial hubs.
Havenhill’s solar mini-grid solution promises to connect up to 70,000 people as well as establishments in various communities to clean and reliable energy. So far, the company has raised over $4 million from Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund (NDIF) to aid the construction of 22 smart solar mini-grids in Nigeria.
6. Freedom Won
Freedom Won is a South African company offering electric vehicle conversions to most existing car models. Founded in 2011 and after successfully converting a fleet of internal combustion Jeep Grand Cherokees used for safari drives, the company has also developed an energy storage system (similar to the Tesla Powerwall in design) to enhance lithium-ion batteries, along with several other electric vehicles.
The Freedom Won stationary storage battery systems are used for residential and business purposes, to protect against load shedding and outages as well as integration with solar panels to reduce or eliminate utility power usage.
Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years and the transportation sector is one of the major contributors. Concerned with providing a lasting solution to this challenge, Green Scooter was established to provide South Africans (and eventually the world) with safe, convenient and eco-friendly options.
Launched in 2017 by entrepreneur Fezile Dhlamini, Green Scooter an electromobility company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, has ushered in the era of electric motor-tricycles in Africa, developing several models of three-wheeled electric scooters for both passenger and cargo transportation. Its services are targeted, not at the rich, but at daily commuters who require a last-mile ride and people who would like to own an affordable electric vehicle for short-to-medium distance trips.
For some people in the developing world, the simple act of making a meal can be hazardous. Cooking using dirty fuels or even on open pit fires can result in accidents and result in indoor air pollution, which studies reveal kills millions of people every year. African Clean Energy was founded in 2011 to address this problem, manufacturing a stovetop that can run off any biomass, uses 70% less energy and reduce costs by 50%.
Its ACE 1 Ultra-Clean Biomass Cookstove also burns cleanly without producing dangerous smoke and can be used indoors. This has greatly improved the lives of those who do most of the cooking in African homes, mainly women and children.
African Clean Energy is dedicated to providing an off-grid energy solution that enables decentralized access to clean energy in rural, “bottom-of-the-pyramid” households in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has also expanded to South-East Asia and now has a growing team of more than 100 full-time employees working in Lesotho, Cambodia and Uganda.
As far as green transportation goes, Ewizz is yet another South African based company focused on the development of cleaner transport solutions in the African market. The company specializes in development of electric scooters for personal and commercial fleet applications. The company’s battery-powered products are suited for urban city applications.
EWIZZ electric vehicles are drastically reducing transport costs, journey times and transport emissions, improving our collective health, productivity and competitiveness. There’s no starting, no petrol and the vehicles even have regenerative braking and reverse. As a user, all you have to do is plug-in to any normal plug point at home to recharge overnight and your bike is full every morning.
10. AWA Bike
One of the major sources of stress for tertiary students in Nigeria is mobility. Students are virtually trekking everywhere and these distances could range from a few metres to several kilometres. Greatly concerned by this, smart bike sharing platform, AWA Bike sprung into action by providing users with easy and cheap means of commuting around campus.
AWA Bike seeks to solve mobility issues in closed communities by linking members to available bicycles through their app. The company is currently developing its reach into various sub-sectors of the Nigerian Civil Service Commission to ensure that ageing civil servants get the daily exercise they need while eliminating environmental pollution one carbon footprint at a time.
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Cover image via Mellowcabs.