Investors discover off-grid solar power

Investors discover off-grid solar power

Workshops on Effective Communication in Business and Leadership was conducted on 12th and 13th March 2020 in Nuwakot and Dhading districts as part of the Post Earthquake Recovery Program (PURNIMA) funded by UKAID.

Thanks to the falling cost of solar panels, off-grid solar energy is on the rise in many parts of the developing world. The same goes for Nepal, where Gham Power is leading the pack.

Serious investments

In recent months we have seen a number of serious investments in off-grid solar energy companies in Africa and Asia. India-based Husk Power Systems received a 20 million dollar investment from Shell, Engie and Swedfund. Kenyan M-KOPA attracted 80 million US dollar from Triodos Investment Management, FMO and Norfund amongst others. And SolarNow, which is based in The Netherlands but active in East-Africa, received a 9 million dollar investment from, again, Shell. It is safe to say that off-grid solar power has seriously taken off – and investors clearly do not want to miss the boat.

Mobile money payments

Here in Nepal, Gham Power has been on the forefront of this development for a number of years. The Kathmandu-based solar energy company has already developed several solar-powered microgrids in rural areas and is running these facilities successfully. Its clients pay-as-they-go which is possible because Gham is using an innovative mobile money payment system. This allows the company to monitor and control electricity provision remotely and make collecting payments very efficient while significantly reducing costs.

Company in the making

After cycling with Gham Power's General Manager Anjal Niraula around the Annapurna circuit and studying off-grid opportunities in Nepal, a number of private investors from the Netherlands committed to establish a new company: Nepal Renewable Energy (NRE). This clean energy utility company will work closely together with Gham Power and will be supported by One to Watch. The new company will initially focus on setting up solar microgrids along trekking trails where many tourists visit. This will give NRE more certainty with regard to electricity demand. Indeed, hotels and restaurants are expected to use more electricity to improve their services and generate more income from tourism.

Manaslu trail

The first solar microgrids that NRE will set up will be installed in three villages along the famous Manaslu trail. As we write this, One to Watch business analyst Sanjay Pokhrel is visiting Manaslu trail together with the people of Gham Power in order to prepare the first grids and engage with the local communities. At the One to Watch office in Kathmandu, our team is preparing all contracts and documentation that are needed to get the new company off the ground. Nepal Renewable Energy is expected to be launched this spring.

The workshop is part of One to Watch’s has partnership with PURNIMA to provide year-long incubation/acceleration services for 20 selected construction companies.

The workshops were follow-ups on the previous sessions which discussed the formulation of business plans and the company specific needs (financial & non-financial) to help the participants’ business grow.

Companies know their businesses the best. However, at times when opportunities demand a solid business pitch, the resulting communication isn’t effective, and the objective of capturing the interest of potential investors, consumers and partners isn’t met. To address this very issue, One to Watch conducted this session.

The delivery of the sessions was inclined towards addressing the need to effectively communicate the SMEs business to spark interests in prospective investors, customers and partners. The focus was to assist companies to streamline their communication of their problem statement, solutions identified, business plan, market, and team.

Post presentation, an exercise was conducted with the participants to help them better understand the purpose of their business so that they can effectively communicate the same to their stakeholders. Following the exercise, entrepreneurs practiced presenting their own businesses.

All in all, the workshop provided a working idea on how to pitch or communicate existing business ideas and products to investors, customers and prospective partners, foster call to actions and follow up with stakeholders when pitching businesses or sales propositions, and break down different business processes into simple meaningful concepts that are easier to understand.