Over the last few weeks, my e-briefs have focused on the greenhouse effect, greenhouse gases which are the biggest contributors, a discussion about carbon dioxide, how to calculate your carbon footprint, and how to offset the footprint to become carbon neutral. I cited non-profits you can donate to which are engaged in activities to reverse the trend of increasing greenhouse gases.
There are also for-profit opportunities related to reducing footprints. One which I discovered at Wefunder and invested in is called NovoMoto. The startup provides a brighter life for off-grid customers in Sub-Saharan Africa communities with reliable, clean, and affordable electricity. NovoMoto customers get brighter and longer lasting lighting for themselves and their children along with the ability to charge their phones at their convenience. All this for less than the cost of today’s solutions. The company installs complete solar power packages with a rent-to-own approach starting at $10 per month. The packages range from kits with three LED lamps and phone charging to kits with TVs and more.
NovoMoto was founded by two students as a spinout of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Aaron Olson has a PhD from the Fusion Technology Institute and is a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow. Mehrdad Arjmand has a Ph.D from the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center in the field of semiconductor thin films.
Olson was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a clinic with no electricity. All his Mom had in her room was a dimly lit kerosene lamp. He says, “I was fortunate to grow up in the US, but my family – like 15 million others in the DRC – has dealt with a lack of electricity.” Olson and Arjmand believe NovoMoto has the potential to change life for millions with its clean electricity products.
The market opportunity is huge. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, there are an estimated 120 million families without access to reliable electricity. They spend over $25 billion annually ($18/home per month) on unreliable grid alternatives which use kerosene, candles, and disposable battery flashlights.
NovoMoto has focused initially on a dozen communities outside of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). The DRC and Madison, Wisconsin have one thing in common, they both consume 1.3 gigawatts of electrical power. The difference is Madison has a population of 700,000 and Congo has 80 million. The company plans to go after the Kinshasa, which has a population of more than seven million.
Like all startups, the NovoMoto team and its partners have been directly affected by the Coronavirus. However, the company has had a positive impact. Many customers say their NovoMoto kits are helping them stay connected, allowing them to more easily adapt to work restrictions and social distancing. The new TV kits are helping them stay up to date with their government’s policies, closures, openings, and guidelines. NovoMoto customer service team has continues to provide support to their customers while respecting DRC guidelines.
The financial performance of NovoMoto has been quite impressive. The founders have set a goal of 5,000 installations and $1.5 million revenue by the end of 2020. If you want to learn more about NovoMoto, take a look at their page on Wefunder.
Note: My father gave me the following investment advice many years ago, “Don’t give any, and don’t take any.” Wise man. I am not recommending buying or selling any of the stocks, startups, crypto, or indexes I write about.