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Top entrepreneurs selected for the Green Pioneer Accelerator in Kenya & South Africa


Impact Amplifier, Growth Africa, VC4Africa and Hivos are pleased to announce the entrepreneurs selected to participate in the 2015 Green Pioneer Acceleration Program.

The Green Pioneer Accelerator is a comprehensive business accelerator that seeks to support early stage enterprises contributing innovative solutions to environmental issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and degradation of soils. 11 committed entrepreneurs were selected for the program in Kenya and 12 entrepreneurs for the program in South Africa.

The selected entrepreneurs were identified after a rigorous multi-phase selection process which focused on the viability of their businesses, the strength of the teams, and their potential to solve huge challenges through innovative products and creative solutions.

The 16 week acceleration programs are starting end of January and early February. Impact Amplifier, Growth Africa, VC4Africa and Hivos are offering this comprehensive program to take the selected businesses from ‘market proof’ to ‘ready for investment’. The program seeks to position companies for scale by getting their strategy, financials and pitch deck in shape, and preparing them for fundraising conversations with investors. This program combines a rigorous curriculum with practical experience shared by successful entrepreneurs, mentors and investors. Graduates will also have access to over 600 private sector investors and can tap into the combined networks and knowledge of the participating partner organizations.

The eleven entrepreneurs selected for the program in Kenya are listed below.

The uniqueness of this batch is the diversity of the social enterprises tackling some of Africa’s most pressing agriculture, energy and environmental concerns.

  1.   Strauss Energy (Kenya) – Tony Nyagah

Strauss Energy is building an integrated photovoltaic roofing tile for residential houses and commercial units. The excess power generated will be fed into the national grid so that home owners can earn income from the feed-in-tariff. More here.

  1.   Afrisol Energy Limited (Kenya) – Amos Nguru

Afrisol specializes in design, installation and maintenance of biogas digesters to produce clean and cheaper energy for institutions. More here.

  1.   Boma Safi Limited (Kenya) – Joyce Gema

Boma Safi sells affordable solar products, clean cook stoves and briquettes to rural households through a hub-spoke and promoter distribution model.

  1.   Classic foods Limited (Kenya) – Wachira Kariuki

Classic Foods processes dairy products, fruit juice, tomato sauce, honey, flour milling and manufactures animal feeds. More here.

  1.   Cobitech Solar (Kenya) – Samson Gichia

Cobitech works with microfinance institutions and savings and credit cooperatives to provide the solar kits on loan to rural poor households for repayment within one year. More here.

  1.   Consumer’s Choice Limited (Kenya) – Mohammed Kadhi

Consumer Choice replaces the use of fossil fuels with more efficient, more economical Bio-Ethanol Gel and environmentally friendly clean cook stoves. More here.

  1.   Green Pencils Limited (Kenya) – Ivan Ochieng

Green Pencils sources old newspapers from registered groups like the disabled, women and youth groups to produce customized pencils and ball pens. More here.

  1.   Kencoco Limited (Kenya) – DR. Said Twahir

Kencoco uses coconut shells, husks and other biomass material to produce charcoal briquettes and sells to households and institutions. More here.

  1. Plexus Energy Limited (Kenya) – Edward Kinyanjui

Plexus distributes off grid power solutions such solar lighting, solar water heating and UPS systems for network masts for telecommunication companies and data centres for internet service providers. More here. 

  1.   Sanivation (Kenya) – Andrew Foote

Sanivation installs portable toilets and charges a monthly fee to provide household sanitation and energy services to people living in congested areas. More here.

  1.   Skynotch Energy Africa (Kenya) – Patrick Kimathi

Skynotch Energy runs a mini-hydro power generation plant, and works with small dealers to provide last mile distribution for solar lanterns and solar energy applications. More here.


The twelve entrepreneurs selected for the program in South Africa are listed below.

  1.   Savvy Loo (South Africa) – Dudley Jackson

Savvy Loo provides a waterless toilet for rural areas and temporary settlements that offers cleaner, safer and healthier sanitary solutions.

  1.   SolarTurtle (South Africa) – James van de Walt

SolarTurtle establishes female run franchises that turn used shipping containers into mobile solar battery charging stations, bringing electricity to off-grid communities. More here.

  1.   Lady Bonin’s Tea (South Africa) – Jessica Bonin

Lady Bonin’s Tea sources tea from biodynamic, organic, cooperative and fair-trade farms and packs throughout South Africa. More here.      

  1.   Phambili Energy South Africa ( South Africa) – Musa Msimango

Phambili Energy develops off-grid electrification and clean energy technologies, utilising biomass-to-energy techniques to provide eco-charkettes and stoves. More here.

  1.   Mellowcabs (South Africa) – Neil du Preez

Mellowcabs manufactures and operates new electric mini-cabs that provide an on-demand, flexible and affordable taxi and transport service in cities. More here.

  1.   Mechanical Concrete (South Africa) – Robert Jooste

Mechanical Concrete is an innovator in the  road construction field using car tyres to manufacture geo-cylinders, which provide a high quality, high performing reinforcing base for concrete roads.

  1.   Project Solaris (South Africa) – Samantha Bartle

Project Solaris provides a novel biofuel feedstock crop, Solaris, to suitable regions in Sub-Saharan Africa. More here.

  1.   Shakti Energy (South Africa) – Vijay Mitha

Shakti Energy supports energy entrepreneurs in off-grid informal settlements to operate a pedal powered generator to recharge LED lights and mobile phones. More here.

  1.   MySmartFarm (South Africa) – Wolfgang Von Loeper

MySmartFarm is a one-stop-shop-all solution for a farmer’s data: a consolidation of high tech agricultural hardware and data services on one cloud platform. More here.

  1.   Botanica Natural Products (South Africa) – Will Coetsee

Botanica Natural Products cultivates an indigenous South African succulent plant, Bulbine frutesce and produces natural ingredients for the cosmetic and neutri–ceutical industry. More here.

  1.   New Earth Health Solutions (South Africa) – Yesheen Singh

New Earth Health Solutions produce Phyto Pro, a range of plant based protein products made from peas, for consumer and medical consumption. More here.

  1.   Spekboom Trading (South Africa) – Zoe Visser

Spekboom Trading generates blue-chip carbon credits through the restoration of degraded land by the cultivation of spekboom, which acts as a carbon sink. More here.

The Green Pioneer Accelerator Program has been developed for early stage companies looking to position themselves for scale. The selected companies have a working prototype with clear market demand and/or are already generating revenue. This program is designed to support entrepreneurs who have ambitions to take the next step in growing their business to a national and regional scale.

A number of organizations have joined the program as partners, each contributing specialised expertise to support the green entrepreneurs.  Organizations involved now includes SEED, Embark Energy, Africege, GVEP, and many others.

Asked about why Hivos initiated this collaboration, Program Manager Leo Soldaat explained, ‘Hivos is very concerned about the environment. We see many problems such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and degradation of soils. In order to address these issues, Hivos wants to co-create with the private sector social innovation in the green – environmental – field. We continue to support green pioneers working to tackle these constraints by positioning them for growth and improving their access to capital. We see the Green Pioneer Accelerator Program as an important next step in developing ventures in these markets, further extending our work into these areas.’

‘We are delighted to be part of Africa’s first Green Pioneer accelerator designed to accelerate growth of businesses in the green space” says Johnni Kjelsgaard, the Group CEO of Nairobi based accelerator Growth Africa. “We believe each one of the 11 early stage enterprises selected to join us in Kenya has huge potential to have significant impact. We will take the entrepreneurs through a unique combination of facilitated learning, peer-based learning and mentoring by some of Africa’s most experienced entrepreneurs, C-suite executives and technical specialists. All this is leveraging GrowthAfrica’s innovative methodology and learning, discovery and planning tool – the ImpactCompass™.’

Maximilian Pichulik, Partner of South African based Impact Amplifier adds, ‘This program is about taking promising green entrepreneurs and getting them ready for investment, with fundable business plans. We have a long track record of successful deal making and this is the next step to accelerating innovation in the green space. Really we are breaking open a new era for green innovation and entrepreneurship.’

Upon successful graduation, the enterprises in each program will be showcased to a group of investors including impact-focused as well as impact-agnostic angel investors and early stage venture capital funds. The showcase will be done through VC4Africa’s online platform and culminates with interested parties participating in a physical 1-day networking session in both the East Africa and Southern Africa locations.

Supporting this program is another way VC4Africa seeks to connect entrepreneurs with quality opportunities and investment leads. Ben White of VC4Africa says, ‘The entrepreneurs selected for this program are working on some really impressive ventures. These companies have received very little attention to date and we plan to change that with this program. We are keen to scale these businesses and help put some success stories on the map. We feel this program only starts to scratch the surface on an area of entrepreneurship that has so much potential.’


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