The Chief Executive of SMEFUNDS, Mr Femi Oye, is transforming his beliefs about a better world into action by raising young entrepreneurs who are passionate about living green and linking them with funds to help them start their businesses.
Worldwide, capitalists and investors are putting their money into small businesses where the owners are environmental friendly and reduce carbon footprint.
While this is helping the environment, it is also opening business opportunities for young graduates and entrepreneurs with green business ideas.
One of such entrepreneurs is the Chief Executive, Green Energy & Biofuels, Femi Oye. He is promoting safer and cleaner ethanol gel with a unique patented cook stoves.
His firm has launched one of the largest and fastest growing cellulosic ethanol production and clean cooking programmes in Africa.
He provides clean, low-cost alternatives to kerosene and other dangerous cooking fuels to many homes.
This enterprise has helped him to attract international funding to expand his business of construction and use of solar systems to provide energy across urban and rural communities.
His approach involves the use of various rooftops and land used for solar energy production. Initial solar installations is less expensive. The systems are also durable and pollution free, usually with a performance guarantee of up to 25 years, using a technology that produces no greenhouse gases.
Oye is delighted that his commitment to safe energy has been recognised. ‘Green Energy & Biofuels’ (Nigeria) was named the best clean energy investment opportunity in West Africa and winner at the West Africa Forum for Clean Energy Financing Business Plan competition in Accra in 2013. The competition assessed business plans from all clean energy sectors across the sub-region.
His firm has recruited over 15,000 entrepreneurs through its Carbon Credit Network and helped them start green businesses that sell the cooking gel and stoves across Nigeria and West Africa.
The firm continues to explore a diversified portfolio of renewable energy projects across geographies and technologies.
So far, more youths and women are ready to bring safer, stable green energy to their communities.
To this end, he has established a green funds programme to help new businesses access cheaper loans for green projects as well as, a reasonable return for investors and benefits for the environment.
Green projects, he said, applies to projects that have a positive effect on nature and the environment.
According to him, entrepreneurs who embark on projects that are environmentally friendly can access funds provided by organisations and individual investors. Applications, he explained, would be assessed by experts and low carbon investment professionals.
Projects are judged against a range of criteria, including the ability to cut the cost of technologies, future carbon savings and commercial viability.
For a project to be eligible for green project status, Oye said it must provide a significant and immediate environmental benefit. Such projects cover a broad range of activities, from high-tech environmental innovation to low-tech agricultural projects with low carbon print.
The funders will check to ensure the projects meet all the conditions of a green project.
He explained that companies involved in organic farming, emphasising agricultural nature management and other agro based projects exploring biomass power supply system can benefit from foreign grants.
The green investors, he explained, also support projects to generate sustainable energy. For instance, led bulbs business for home lighting or using waste heat for farms also comes under the scheme.
According to him, the international funding is meant to give small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a vital boost to drive forward the development of a range of innovative low carbon designs, helping cut costs and bringing new technologies to market.
He told The Nation that young entrepreneurs would be supported with grants for technologies that could reduce carbon emissions and energy from waste.
He explained that his organisation has established the Green Ambassadors Programme centers around a six-month entrepreneurship training programme. Participants learn about the green economy and the opportunities it offers, participate in structured skills training, and experience an incredible, outdoor summer. The programme also offers grants and support to explore opportunities after the training is completed. Grants are provided for young graduates to invest in green projects focusing on proven technologies such as biomass, solar and small-scale biofuels refining across the country.
He sees the ambassadors are partners in promoting solutions to the world’s most critical energy issues and challenges. The mission of the ambassadors is to harness renew-able energy and convert into higher value products, ultimately leading to Improved environmental and community health. According to him, the ambassadors will be helping homes and businesses to reduce energy costs, implement building efficiency technologies, renewable energy systems, and communities go green.
Oye cited that the pace has been enormous and that the share of clean energy would continue to grow in Nigeria. He estimated that over time, the traditional power sector would see significant changes with increased smart use of solar power consumption.
For him, clean energy infrastructure can provide a security of supply that no fossil fuel equivalent can offer. This makes them attractive not only to governments but to institutional investors seeking visible and consistent returns over a long period of time. By their nature, clean energy infrastructure assets are environmentally superior to other available options. They will also help Nigeria meet its obligations under the climate change protocols.
He said a lot of international funding sources were opening up, following global efforts to tackle climate change, and social investors were ready to support SMEs get their projects off the ground.
According to him, through climate change has presented a gigantic threat, it has also created a big economic opportunity with many entrepreneurship ventures to develop a green economy that creates jobs in the process.
He highlighted the scale of opportunity in the green economy, calling for businesses with emerging technologies and promising start-ups to come in and take advantage of such funds.
According to him, emerging energy entrepreneurs funds offer opportunities for businesses of all sizes to access funding to develop exciting new innovations.
Oye, also Chief Executive, SMEFunds, will receive N50 million (about $300,000) of funding for its clean energy work supporting households and SMEs through Ecobank Limited.
Funding from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), distributed through Ecobank, will go towards helping support two of SMEFunds’ clean energy initiatives – Cellulosic Bio Ethanol Gel for Clean Cook Stoves, and Pay-As-You-Go Solar Smart Mini-Grid Electricity projects.
Both are aimed at ensuring clean, safe and affordable energy for more than one million low income SMEs and households across Nigeria.
SMEFunds’ green projects, Green Energy & Biofuels and Gosolar Africa Limited have reached more than 500,000 customers in households and SMEs over the last three years.
By DANIEL ESSIET [The Nation Online]