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Solaris Offgrid at Unreasonable GOALS: Helping Accelerate World's Ability to Achieve SDGs

Solaris Offgrid at Unreasonable GOALS: Helping Accelerate World's Ability to Achieve SDGs

We are honoured to announce that Solaris Offgrid took part in the Unreasonable GOALS programme, held between the 24th and the 28th of October in Costa Rica, an initiative carried out by the Unreasonable Group alongside the United States’ Department of State, to support growth-stage startups, each uniquely positioned to solve one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The distinguished programme brought together 16 companies -as well as mentors and investors- from the Unreasonable fellow base, each presenting cutting-edge solutions capable of significantly achieving one of the SDGs, while also tackling the challenges posed by COVID-19. The initiative focused on ventures that challenge conventional notions to achieve ambitious goals, have a strong commitment to inclusivity and diversity, and possess an unwavering dedication to making a positive impact. Aiming to repurpose capitalism, Unreasonable fosters proven business models that can truly make a change, in line with Solaris Offgrid, whose impact has demonstrated over time to be scalable and profitable.

Earlier this year, our company was chosen as part of the Unreasonable IMPACT cohort, a strategic collaboration between Unreasonable alongside the Barclays Group, through which they identified the world's most impactful growth-stage ventures to scale business solutions dedicated to solving pressing global challenges while rapidly creating the jobs of tomorrow. The cohort is now supported by a strong community of Unreasonable mentors, investors, and Barclays' colleagues, dedicated to championing the growth and impact of the ventures now and into the future.

A Holistic Approach Towards Achieving SDG7

Over the past 9 years, Solaris Offgrid's commitment towards building a more inclusive and sustainable future has been beyond doubt. From our contributions to the Pay-as-you-go (Paygo)/Off-grid Solar industry to our more recent work supporting the largest network of smallholder farmers in Africa, the company is striving to tackle the main challenges of last-mile distributors (LMDs) and entire communities in remote parts of the world. As expressed by CEO and co-founder, Siten Mandalia: “the technology is available, but individuals need proper financing to access it, while distributors of this technology need more funding in order to reach more families. That’s where we have a role to play.”

In light of these realities, our last-mile management IT platform, PaygOps, currently empowers over 100 LMDs to unlock clean energy and essential services on a loan basis to millions of underserved families, while Bridgin, a cutting-edge financial aggregation solution awarded by the UNDP, is on track to become a multi-country platform that allows distributors to easily sell pools of receivables to debt investors and get the liquidity they need to scale in order to keep serving the underbanked.

Our holistic approach, currently impacting 4.8 million people across 39 countries, may well answer why the Unreasonable Group set their sight on Solaris Offgrid as a company with great potential to achieve SDG7: help ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, as well as contribute to other SDGs.

Learnings from Unreasonable GOALS

The Unreasonable GOALS programme consisted of a 4-day in-person event as well as different online engagements with ventures, mentors and investors. Along with fellow companies, Solaris Offgrid participated in an integral group of sessions aimed at generating impact through collaboration, including a Global Virtual Investor Summit and signature Braintrusts, topical deep dive discussions and access to key introductions through the Unreasonable GOALS network.

🔎 Here are some of our takeaways:

1. Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) are making progress towards reducing poverty (SDG1) and fostering gender equality (SDG5), but the sector needs further support from technology providers and better funding mechanisms that can adapt to their unique nature

Conversations with different MFIs allowed us to have a deeper understanding of the challenges that organisations in the sector are currently facing and how we could play a pivotal role in serving them with solutions like PaygOps and Bridgin, to address industry-specific hurdles, such as: the lack of IT infrastructure to streamline operational management and risk mitigation, and the limited access to funding.

Understanding the unique nature of microfinance, PaygOps can support MFIs with adaptable features designed for managing leads, tracking financial transactions, reaching the most remote areas, automating virtually any critical process (via Custom Workflows) within the Microfinance sector to streamline operations, enhance transparency, and improve financial services. On the other hand, our financial aggregation solution, Bridgin, could be decisive in allowing these companies to get the liquidity needed to finance the next round of customers.

2. Leveraging data is key to further advance sustainable agriculture in Africa and Asia, where 80% of the food consumed worldwide is produced

Mars, the renowned manufacturer of confectionery, petcare, food and nutrition, is working towards building a sustainable cocoa supply chain, aiming at having 100% of its cocoa responsibly sourced by 2025. A conversation with Unreasonable mentor Amanda Davies, Head of Sustainability and Procurement at Mars, on how the company thinks about their sustainability practices with regards to cocoa farming, really expanded our views on the value that PaygOps data collection and analytics capabilities bring to the table for agritech companies and how we could further support this sector with our upcoming solutions for agriculture.

Amanda placed particular attention on the importance of having granular visibility of their farmers’ performance and conditions, an area that Mars makes constant efforts to optimise.

In that respect, PaygOps can collect and centralise customer data, including payment history, transaction records, behaviour data, crop data, etc. With the advanced Customised Dashboards, organisations can track any set of data granularly and generate insights that can enhance decision-making. We’re working towards making PaygOps an end-to-end solution for agritech companies to streamline operations, offering robust integrations around credit scoring, inventory management and delivery management, as well as tailored capabilities like Surface Mapping and our upcoming offtaking features.

3. Open-source innovation, such as OpenPAYGO Pass, is a vehicle to further accelerate universal access to clean energy, while enabling access to productive appliances

We engaged with organisations that are striving to bring clean energy solutions to rural communities in developing markets, such as SOGO Energy, a venture that is providing irrigation systems via their “irrigation as a service” model in Cambodia. Among compelling conversations about the challenges in the sector, we discussed ways to help manage payment systems for Paygo irrigation for smallholder farmers and considered it valuable for them to leverage our upcoming open-source innovation: OpenPAYGO™ Pass, which allows clients in areas with no access to mobile money or with very poor mobile connectivity to get a seamless Paygo service through an RFID badge mechanism that will simplify the activation process and provide free data feedback in places where cash collection is required.

4. Unreasonable GOALS ratified that we are headed in the right direction and inspired us to continue with the vital work we’re doing at Solaris Offgrid

The Unreasonable mantra, “We > I”, holds true as we witnessed the calibre of people involved and the tangible efforts already made by participants to help "bend history in the right direction”. It was inspiring to see this support translate into actual change. For that reason, we’re grateful for the connections made with such impactful ventures, the innovative ideas explored during the week, such as: B2B SaaS expansion strategies with LaShonda Anderson-Williams from Salesforce, focusing the company vision with Mohanjit Jolly from Iron Pillar, and how we can better support millions of smallholder farmers with Amanda Davies from Mars. We’re now more motivated than ever to continue that vital work at Solaris Offgrid.

🟠 Are you a last-mile distributor?

Learn how PaygOps flexible features can help you streamline business operations, or discover how to sell pools of receivables through Bridgin and get instant liquidity to scale. Contact us for more information.

🟠 Manufacturer? Want to make your devices Paygo?

Explore and download the OpenPAYGO™ Suite, our ever-evolvikng kit of free and interoperable open-source tools.


About Solaris Offgrid

Solaris Offgrid supports distributors and manufacturers across all industries in over 35 countries through SolarisLab Product Design Services and flexible IT solutions. Solaris Offgrid’s flagship PaygOps platform is an interoperable B2B SaaS which connects energy and utility appliances (solar devices, water-pumps, cookstoves, smart metres, e-bikes) and payment methods (Pay-as-you-go and Mobile Money) within a suite of enterprise applications or API services, to allow distributors to smoothly manage their operations and tackle their challenges at the last mile, thus enabling them to provide affordable essential products and services to millions of people at the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid.

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