Energy contests


GVEP runs business plan contests from time to time to award financial and technical help to innovative enterprises and projects in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. We've run these energy contests and challenges in partnership with various institutions and organisations such as IDB, GIZ, the Korean fund, and the BiD Network.  

IDEAS 2012 - Caribbean

In February 2012, the second round of the IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest was launched. Sponsored largely by UK Aid, with the support of the IDB and the South Korean Government, this round of the competition focussed on innovative projects and ideas promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and access to energy in the Caribbean. We received 189 applications from 15 eligible countries. The jury chose 8 winners who will receive awards totalling nearly £1 million. UK Aid has chosen GVEP as its implementing partner for IDEAS. GVEP and the other contest sponsors also committed to working closely with each winner to provide technical advice, access to other experts and institutions, and introductions to funders and investors.

IDEAS was first launched in February 2009, with funding from the Netherlands Directorate-General of Development Cooperation (DGIS), Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), and the Korean Government. We received over 1,000 business proposals from 28 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. We chose 26 winners, who each received a two-year development grant of up to $200,000. GVEP’s support allowed a number of grant recipients to turn their ideas into commercially viable energy businesses.


Lighting up rural Suriname

In Suriname many rural communities depend on kerosene lamps or candles for night light. Guguplex, one of the eight winners of our 2012 IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest, aims to bring affordable and clean solar power to off-grid communities. The project intends to provide solar lighting through assistance from a local microfinance institution. 
Guguplex sells and maintains solar equipment on a retail basis through its store in Paramaribo. The project expects to install solar systems in 80 homes across five communities in two years’ time. In addition, two schools will benefit by having systems installed on their premises. The project also aims to increase employment by training 25 entrepreneurs to provide solar equipment directly in rural communities. 
So far Guguplex has trained 14 people in the maintenance of PV systems. It has also installed a solar system at a school on Stoelmans Island, in the Tapanahony area. It powers the IT room and Internet access. One hundred and fifty-five students at the school were taught the principles of solar electricity and were shown how solar panels work.

REACT competition

GVEP were contracted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to provide advice to renewable energy businesses participating in the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), a $150 million fund. The Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technology (REACT) is one of AECF’s investment competitions. It is open to five countries of the East African Community. GVEP teamed up with AECF to provide technical assistance to applicants of REACT’s second application window. GVEP supported businesses in both phases of the competition providing concept notes advisory as well as coaching on the development of business plans.

Fast 5 Challenge

In June 2012, BiD Network launched the Fast 5 Challenge to identify five fast-growing established businesses in emerging markets in order to introduce them to ready-to-invest financiers. The competition is supported by 7 investment partners, among which is GVEP investing via its Prometheus Fund. A total of 268 applications were received and the five winners were announced in September.

Access to Clean Energy Challenge - East Africa

Mafuta Sasa biodiesel TanzaniaIn 2009 GVEP teamed up with Dutch NGO the BiD Network to launch a competition for business energy ideas aimed at delivering access to clean energy to people in East Africa.

The winners were eligible to receive coaching on the development of their business idea, and the best of the business plans received a mix of grant support and investment. 

Barclays Bank and social investor Sir Ronald Grierson provided funds which were used to support the winning businesses.  


Africa Alternative Energy Solutions in Uganda

Founded by Harry Nielsen, an American resident in Uganda, the company developed an innovative product which charges a power pack using surplus power from a car engine. the device can be used to power a home which is not grid connected or during frequent power cuts.

The company was identified through the Access to Clean Energy Challenge that GVEP conducted with BiD and Barclays, and was given an initial grant of $15,000. 

This enabled the entrepreneur to conduct a marketing trial to establish demand for the product. Initial results from the marketing tests were encouraging and a second grant was made to provide essential working capital. Together with GVEP, a plan was agreed for the business to reach breakeven. Financial systems were put in place to enhance the ability for the company to track its financial performance and report to management and potential investors. Since the initial grant, the business has continued to grow.