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Social Impact:Through a battery-subscription service in rural Tanzania, villagers are able to access an affordable and clean energy source that can power basic devices such as mobile phones, lights, and radios. Currently, EGG-Energy has worked with 300 households in its initial foray into the space. Once a customer signs up for the service, the EGG team wires their home so that a family can use lights and switches for approximately 3-5 nights at a time, all powered by a battery. When the battery loses its charge, customers can switch out the depleted one for a new one at a nearby rural charging station. This last mile solution is a lower-cost, safer, and environmentally friendly application compared to traditional energy sources such as kerosene. This service also improves productivity and livelihoods by creating access to a continuous energy source.
EGG-energy: Engineering Global Growth
Founded in 2008 by students from MIT and Harvard, EGG-energy was established as a for-profit company headquartered in Boston but "Bringing affordable power to communities in the developing world." The founders initially planned to provide solar panel kits to low-income customers but quickly changed direction when they realized the market for such a product simply was not there. In doing so, the team decided on offering customers in rural Tanzania a batterysubscription service that would significantly increase last mile connectivity.
By purchasing a subscription -- the price of which is determined by the length of the contract -- rural customers can "rent" a battery that can power their homes for 3-5 nights. When the battery runs out, customers swap the empty battery for a new one at their closest charging station, typically set up in high-traffic areas such as a village center or bus station. EGG purchases these lead-acid batteries from China to leverage low-cost manufacturing opportunities and sets up charging stations after gaining the approval of village leaders. The team began operations through the approximately $70,000-$80,000 it raised from winning various business plan competitions.
This initial capital combined with that from an angel investor enabled EGG to start operations on a pilot-size scale in the summer of 2009, when they traveled, lived, and worked in Tanzania. Though still navigating the Tanzanian business environment, EGG's team members reach out to new villages by traveling and showcasing demo batteries, meeting village leaders, and conducting interviews with and explaining business processes to villagers. With a goal of reaching approximately more than 100,000 households by 2014, the company is looking to rapidly scale its operations well beyond this initial pilot and hopes to close another round of funding in the near future.