Coveted award recognises innovative pay-as-you-go solar business model
Azuri has been named as the winner of the 2013 Zennström Philanthropies Ashden Award for Innovation – worth £20,000.
The Ashden Awards were founded in 2001 to encourage the greater use of sustainable energy to reduce poverty and tackle climate change. Azuri’s CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth was presented with the award by the UK’s International Development Minister Lynn Featherstone at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society, London.
The award celebrates Azuri’s innovative pay-as-you-go interface, which allows households to pay for solar as they use it with scratchcards. The upfront costs of solar products often render them out of reach for the people who would benefit most.
Increasing numbers of homes in Kenya and in eight other countries in sub-Saharan Africa are now using Azuri’s ‘Indigo Duo’ starter solar-home-systems, which provide two lights and phone charging. Once they have paid for their starter system, customers then have the opportunity to upgrade to larger systems, allowing them to progressively pay their way out of poverty.
Edward Namasaka, Azuri’s first distributor in Kenya, joined Azuri CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth to receive the award at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The Ashden team had previously visited West Kenya as part of the rigorous judging process for this year’s awards in order to evaluate the growth and positive impact of pay as you go solar on local communities. Mr Namasaka’s company has also seen rapid growth from a single entrepreneur 18 months ago to a team of some 35 full and part-time staff including sub-dealers, installers and scratchcard sellers.
Simon Bransfield Garth, CEO of Azuri said, “Our Ashden Award is for all those who have helped Indigo grow from small beginnings. That includes many dedicated individuals at Azuri Technologies, and our partners, who are now working to bring pay-as-you-go solar power to rural villages across sub-Saharan Africa. Together we have demonstrated the transformational impact that innovative technology and business model can achieve.”
The Ashden judging panel said, “Azuri Technologies has created an innovative and culturally appropriate product that also overcomes the huge hurdle of the high upfront costs of solar power.”
Azuri is one of four enterprises working in Africa to win an International Ashden Award this year. The others are WWF-DRC, SolarAid and Impact Carbon.