East Wind Laboratories

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Overview

Making Electricity Available and Affordable for All Nigerians

 

Overview

Headquarters: Ife-Ife, Nigeria
Established: 2002
Impact Areas: Nigeria
Type: For-Profit
Energy Sectors:
Business Model Types:
Staff Size: 6 and 15 contractors
Annual Budget: $250,000
Major Funders: Founder, Family, EastWind Technologies

ABOUT

EWL sells inverter/battery backup power solutions to ensure continuous, reliable power for individual households, offices, and institutions such as hospitals.

 

Energy Products/Services

  • Inverter/Battery Combo System, Energy Audits

Target Market

  • Twenty-five million Nigerians can potentially pay for the EWL solution because it will provide them with a reliable electricity supply and save them money over the cost of a generator, which is currently the most popular backup energy solution.

 

East Wind Laboratories

Revenue Streams

  • Sale of Inverter/Battery Systems, Sale of energy efficiency products and services

Value Proposition

  • During grid electricity outages, EWL’s inverter-battery combo solution automatically takes over the powering of the client’s electrical appliances for as long as the designed battery capacity lasts.
  • When grid power is restored, EWL’s solution automatically starts recharging the depleted batteries.
  • EWL’s solutions guarantee electricity availability to grid- connected Nigerians, thus empowering them to live the quality of life they have dreamed of.
  • EWL offers comprehensive energy audits with their solutions, robust installation and integration with the grid, and strong after-sales service and support.

Problem Addressed

  • 90 million Nigerians are connected to the national electrical grid, which is unstable and unreliable, necessitating that each household or organization purchase a backup solution.

Where They Are Now

Impact to Date

  • 2,595 people with access to stable, reliable electricity
  • 3,500 Teaching hospital staff (prospective buyers) reached through product awareness campaign
  • 500 Oke Agunla villagers have received assistance troubleshooting their village solar system

Milestones

  • 2009: First EWL beneficiary
  • 2011: Won alternate energy contract worth $126,250
  • 2011: Statewide Video/TV campaign
  • 2011: 150+ beneficiary households

Growth Plan

  • 2011: Secure expansion capital of $1 million
  • 2012: Secure partnerships to miniaturize and modularize solution, reducing prices by 25%, while adding inverter intelligence
  • 2013: Transition inverter- battery solutions to full solar/wind renewable energy solutions
  • 2014: Build a 20MW renewable power plant to sell bulk electricity
  • 2014: Install 25,000 power system units

How They Deliver

Product Sourcing

  • Eastwind custom-designs each system based on its customer’s needs, using a combination of off-the-shelf inverters, batteries, and lights.
  • Products are bought from Nigerian distributors who import them.  Batteries primarily come from China, inverters from India, and higher-end versions from Europe.
  • One supply challenge Eastwind has faced is with lights.  They currently supply CFL bulbs, but would like to switch to more efficient LEDs.  However, locally available LEDs are too expensive and customers do not like the stark whiteness of the light they produce.

Distribution

  • Eastwind sees itself as a service company rather than a product company, and customers always receive an initial energy audit to determine their needs and decide which system will be best for them.
  • Eastwind also uses the energy audit to teach customers about how to make their home lighting system more efficient and therefore get the biggest bang for their buck from the installation. Customers receive a certificate that they were trained in energy efficiency.
    Once an energy solution is determined for a customer, which could include replacing lights with more efficient ones, or swapping out faulty wiring, contractors install the inverter system in the house or business.
  • Eastwind does follow-up checks by phone or email once a week to ensure that the system is working well, and also conducts site visits every 3 months for the first year.
  • One of Eastwind’s competitive advantages is its high level of service provision.

Scaling

  • Eastwind is interested in expanding beyond Ife Ife to all of southwest Nigeria and eventually the entire country.
  • Even if they remain focused on the co-op model they could potentially approach hospitals and universities all over the country.
  • As they scale, they plan to develop a training program to institutionalize their audits and service provision.  They also imagine scaling might come from doing larger jobs, as institutional installations can often be 30 times the size of home installations.

Revenue & Affordability

  • While some of Eastwind’s customers can afford to buy its systems up front, many need financing, particularly non-institutional customers.
  • It has not been easy to help customers get financing from banks, but Eastwind has found success partnering with co-operatives of university and hospital staff.  These cooperatives exist in part to help members get financing, and in Ife Ife, where Eastwind is based, there are over 6,000 cooperative members.
  • The cooperatives with which Eastwind partners pay for systems upfront, and customers then pay the cooperatives back over a period of 2 years, at much lower interest rates than banks would charge 22-23% interest.
  • Eastwind’s inverters cost 2.5-3x more upfront than diesel or gas generators, but cost 90% less monthly to run since they don’t require fuel.  Break even time is approximately 9-18 months.

Financing

  • Eastwind has thus far self-financed, using revenue from other businesses in which the founder is involved.  They continue to grow using profits from sales, but could scale much faster if they received debt or equity investment.

More Resources

Online Resources

Contact Information

EastWind Laboratories
Central Business Area 8
Lagere Road,
Ife 220003
Nigeria

( +234 703 398 4844
* ola.abraham@singularityu.org