The Solar Journey
Episode #019 - Africa GreenTec
Episode #019 with Torsten Brammer & Africa GreenTec:
This episode is truly inspiring ☀️. Renewable energy can really make a difference in the world and improve living conditions and perspectives of whole communities. Africa GreenTec, empowers people to achieve more self-determination and growth through sustainable energy solutions. But it is easier said than done because electricity works differently in other countries. It is not only about access, but also about the quality of electricity, which requires tailored solutions.
Torsten Brammer wants to know, how it works exactly, so he talks to Torsten Schreiber, LinkedIn Top Voice 2022 for #sustainability and Founder/ CEO of Africa GreenTec. They are joined by Kady Tounkara, Brand Communication Director at AGT, former Olympian and Professional Basketball Player, and Chairperson of the World Anti-Doping Education committee.
Don't miss this enlightening talk!
Connect with Africa GreenTec on LinkedIn.
(7:24-9:07) The Vision from African GreenTec (AGT) is to make Africa independent from fossil fuels. The purpose driven company empowers people to achieve more self-determination and growth through sustainable energy solutions. And this means a lot more than just installing a grid in a village. Kady Tounkara, Brand Communication Director at AGT, explains how they really add value to the communities.
(25:45-28:30) Africa GreenTec empowers people to achieve more self-determination and growth through sustainable energy solutions, as a purpose driven for profit company. Torsten Schreiber, LinkedIn Top Voice 2022 for #sustainability and Founder/ CEO of AGT explains how their business model works. Learn more about Trust, dependency and the African Happy Hour ☀️
(31:57-33:22) Bringing renewable energy to the people works differently in Africa than it does in Europe. Africa GreenTec implemented the first stand-alone system, in Nigeria. Torsten Schreiber, LinkedIn Top Voice 2022 for #sustainability and Founder/ CEO of AGT talks about the key learnings of this project.
[00:00:04.860] - Torsten
So hello, everybody, and welcome to a new episode of The Solar Journey. My guests today are Torsten Schreiber and Kady Tounkara. Welcome to the show. Kady and Torsten, happy to have you here.
[00:00:19.290] - Kady
Thank you for having us.
[00:00:20.930] - Torsten
Thanks for joining. So Kady is the Brand Communications Manager of Africa GreenTec and Torsten, he's the Founder and CEO of Africa GreenTec. The vision of Africa GreenTec is to make Africa independent from fossil fuels. Africa GreenTec is a German African joint venture between social entrepreneurs, scientists, and investors. It finances and operates German energy, water, and recycling technology in Africa. Africa GreenTec makes a difference by designing business models adequate for the local situation. To give you an idea about the size GreenTec Africa operates from 30 sites with around 150 full time employees and has developed projects worth €100 million. Before joining Africa GreenTec, Kady worked and still works for a variety of organizations. She's in the technical committee for the Africa Games. The disability inclusion consultant of the International Committee of the Red Cross. She works for the World Anti Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee, and she was an Olympian in basketball for Mali at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. By the way, Mali came 12th as best African country. On the other side, there's little to nothing known on Torsten’s physical activities on the Internet. Considering what this could include, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
[00:01:55.940] - Torsten
Torsten has been in the startup business for 34 years. In his early career, he ran online apparel businesses. He was also the social media consultant to the German political party the Pirates. For the non German listeners, the Pirates core topic is freedom, transparency, and civil rights protection in the Internet. And in 2012, he co founded Bettervest. The aim of Bettervest was to provide crowdfunding to energy saving projects in Germany. Finally, in 2018, he co founded Africa GreenTec. And on the side, he's involved in a magazine for social entrepreneurs. And I think that he does a lot more. He's very active on LinkedIn to the extent that he is the current LinkedIn voice for 2022 for sustainability. Again, you two are very warm. Welcome. So, Kady, where are you right now?
[00:02:51.960] - Kady
Well, hello, Torsten. I am in Senegal Dakar, Senegal, actually in a small town a bit far from Dakar, but just wanted to make it clear in my introduction that I'm not working for the World Antidoping Agency and the IOC. I'm a volunteer and commission member for both of those organizations.
[00:03:12.920] - Torsten
[00:03:14.000] - Torsten S
Not a full paid job.
[00:03:16.240] - Torsten
All right. Okay. Excellent. All right, so from one to ten, with ten being super, what are Torsten’s basketball skills?
[00:03:25.380] - Kady
Wow. Should we go there? Because I'm sitting next to my CEO, I would say that I have not seen him actually on the basketball court. So I cannot assist. It will be next to our agenda.
[00:03:41.550] - Torsten
All right, put that on the agenda. All right. So you just mentioned it. I mentioned quite a few jobs. So what you're doing now for Africa GreenTec, that's your 100% job. All the other activities are, let's say, paused or exactly. All right. Okay, cool. I was wondering I was wondering so you just joined Africa GreenTec in October 22. So what made you join after spending all your career in multinational large organization and what attracts you in Africa GreenTec?
[00:04:12.500] - Kady
Thank you for that. It's a great question. I think we have common values and common directions that we wanted to take. I actually had met with Kady and Torsten through Mohammed Yunus on his birthday during a social business summit that he was running because I was also collaborating with the unsports hub on different projects. And we just found that we have these common values that we want to empower communities. They were doing it in a different way, and I wanted to do it through a foundation. I think our values collided there and it was ongoing discussions until we actually got to sit one day and to decide that we'll take the same direction. And I'm happy and thankful for that opportunity to really bring some new face but also a new direction and also be able, with the authorization of Torsten to give my overview where branding and communication can move forward with AGT in the future.
[00:05:16.090] - Torsten
Yeah, excellent. And in our discussions upfront, you told me that you have a special task now which is about empowering women and communities. Could you specify that? And what are you going to add to Africa GreenTec with that task?
[00:05:34.140] - Kady
Thank you. I think, obviously, core business of Africa GreenTec is to bring electricity. But we know what electricity can do without just bringing lights. And we feel that this is the way for us to really strongly empower communities on the impact side through different energy solutions, whether it's just bringing a refrigerator into a store and they can start a whole new business and have a whole new perspective on how to provide income for their family and attain financial autonomy through that. But it's also for children, for example, to have access to light and study in the evenings. And if I take it to a sport level, which I really enjoy, even in Africa, we also have now different products where we can even unlike course, so that children can also play sport and women can also play sport and take part into other social activities. And that's what we do in villages. But within our company as well, I think it's a strong direction that Torsten is leading the CEO to really enable women to also play an important role. And I think within our team, women are really being key now. So I think in all aspects, Africa GreenTec is a company that's looking forward to that to really ensure that we empower women in any way possible.
[00:06:56.680] - Torsten
So it's not about only bringing electricity lights to the communities, but you want to empower the communities. So what do you actually do once you have installed a small local grid? What do you add to empower the communities? What do you actually do to achieve that? The empowerment?
[00:07:23.680] - Kady
I think this is very important question because besides the impact set, I think we have the full business model that we're bringing through that process. First of all, our electricity is not free, so we have the population is actually paying for the electricity and it enables a lot of small businesses to develop. I think when we look at our clients, we even have a specific financement plan for welders, let's say, who need much power to be able to do their job on site. So we bring that model that they can pay for their electricity and reinvest it into their business. That's the real core of social business and where we also embrace really the idea of medieval Nobel Prize and creator of social business is that we really want to bring in beside electricity, a full business model where population can realize their small businesses and can be empowered through that. With that, we also have a blended approach with other products that we're bringing around electricity, as you've mentioned before in the introduction. We also have some water pumps, we also have WiFi that we're bringing. We're bringing clean water systems. All that put together with our financial models.
[00:08:42.370] - Kady
It's really to empower the community at large with all the solutions they might need again to access economic and financial autonomy.
[00:08:53.900] - Torsten
Excellent. I think we can circle to that back in more detail also later. Excellent. Thank you. Torsten, just to get you included in the conversation.
[00:09:09.470] - Torsten S
I love to lose some.
[00:09:13.060] - Torsten
Torsten, you started out there as a trained publishing clock. So as you go decades back and you ran online shops for apparel, you sold suits on Ebay, basically, and now you're a social entrepreneur and you initiate green energy projects in Africa. You live in Africa, right? We see you now in Senegal. Take us on your journey from Ebay and apparel to what you are and what you do today. What's your solar journey? How did it come about?
[00:09:48.860] - Torsten S
Well, it's all about love, I can say. The change with my wife is IDA. She is also a good friend from Kadi. She's also Marlin, and we met in my closing time where I was in April. And this was after Ebay. So the Ebay journey is about ecommerce. I mean, I was focused on closing on man closing because my parents, after they separated, the new husband of my mother, he was in closing business for years, for decades. And so I moved from Frybrook to Frankfurt and together with him I found out that I have some good qualities and strengths to open a business. And so we started in 99 with one of the first outlet shops in Frankfurt in Westbarden and then 2001 some of us remember it was the terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York. So all our people stand around, we had no clients and so we we developed this ebay thing on that time. It caused Ricardo because it was a copy from the Samba Brothers and we was one of the first ebay power sellers and we just sold our closing there because there was no more clients in the shop as a consequence of this terror attack.
[00:11:26.350] - Torsten S
So that we see we can make more profits in ecommerce than in traditional retail shops. And I'm a really digital guy since I was child. I had the first computer, the Commodore Fear and Sexy and I just follow all the time as a young man this digital nomad thing. That's also why I later go to the Pirate Party. So I'm very interested in internet, digital things and computers. And so I created a great ecommerce brand and I think for two years he was the biggest European power seller for closing. And then 2006, the business model, they changed from ebay, they just orientated themselves back to the €1 market because meanwhile Amazon was growing very fast and they took over this catalog pricing things so you buy something for a fixed price. And this was our business model on ebay because some of you remember there was ebay shops and we was very strong in that. And then ebay just changed it overnight, their algorithm and finally we got bankrupt because we was focused on this catalog selling product, not selling for 1500 euro suit. And in this time I met IDA as a bankrupt entrepreneur.
[00:13:05.060] - Torsten S
So I also know the these these experiences and through IDA I was going to Africa, visiting Mali in 2006, the first time the country was not in in civil war like today. There was people traveling with campers to attend the Niger Music Festival. Even American stars was coming there to take their beats there. And so I met Africa from a very personal and direct way and I just fall in love to first the woman and later the continent. And that time when we get our child and with the born of my daughter. 2009, I started really reflecting all these geopolitical things, how we treat Africa in the past, all this colonialism, then you have a child what has a culture mix of two different cultures and this really impacted myself on reflecting my own values and my own beliefs. And so I I was starting I i think 2006, the transformation started by 2009 I really started to be more an African guy, more cosmopolitan and also reflect the values what we have in Germany. I mean, we talk about racism, all these things and in that time so it's 2009 until today I transformed myself into the person I am today.
[00:14:48.620] - Torsten S
I think I'm the better person today than 2006 because I also see how bad is this closing industry, how we treat people in Bangladesh. That's also why I'm very close to mortgage units, because this difference between the Global North and the Global South is today a big point for me where I want to be a change maker, that we have fair trade and treat people well. And yeah, it's a personal development, I can say.
[00:15:25.320] - Torsten
Quite a journey. Thanks a lot for sharing, quite touching. Excellent. Patty, in your own words, what does green tech Africa do? What's special about it?
[00:15:40.700] - Kady
So many things are special about what Africa can do, but I think perhaps I can turn that into the values of perhaps sharing. First we're sharing technology, we're bringing German innovation into Africa and we're sharing technology and innovation. And now we even added now to the value chain by relocating the company in Africa so that we can also employ Africans and work more in symbiosis with the continent. Rather than shipping our product, our plan is to later produce them here or at least assemble most of our product here. So that's first we're bringing that sharing is caring, is what I like to say. I think the second point is really empowering the community through energy solutions that are suitable for the future, as we all know. I mean, you're in this sector. Fossile industry is not the future for us. By 2019, I believe no more coal will be available on Earth 22. No more oil reserves. The oil reserve will be gone. So diesel is not suitable. So we're really trying to find here the best solutions for Africa and to impact positively. And at the same time, we want to, as I said, send out a new business model that's feasible and that's suitable for the population here.
[00:17:09.970] - Kady
To also prevent immigration for the youth, for example, because they can open their new, their own business here and they can be empowered through that process that we feel is the fair way for us and for the future generations. So I think Africa green tech is bringing a lot of impact and values here that are also aligned with my personal values as an Olympian. As you know, the spirit of olympism is to make the world a better place to sport if you relate it to Africa green tech. We try to make a better world through energy solutions and that are doable. So it's very important and I think impact is really key for us here.
[00:17:50.600] - Torsten
Good, excellent. So who's got the ideas for all your projects? You have a massive of projects already running and you keep creating new projects all the time. So how does it happen? Is it all internally or just friends or networks? Or do you meet people and they say, hey, I would love to do that? How does it work and how do we then choose the projects?
[00:18:14.640] - Torsten S
I think it's a mix of all, but to the core business of at two parts, it's the ideas of unis. How to run a business, so not focus on profit, more on impact. And I learned very early 2016, as the framework from the Sustainable Development goes from the United Nations come up to put the whole company based on this framework. So since six years we are one of the really early adopters. We measure our work through these 17 development goals. And we are very proud that at can today in the impact side provide add eleven values to eleven SDGs out of this 17. So it's not only about electricity. Electricity is the beginning of everything for us, because all appliances work with renewable electricity. But coming to your question, it's really important that you hear what are the needs of your clients? And as we are not part of the development aid to go there and say we are the white people, we know we need debt, you will need debt. So we build you a school. We are not interested how you pay the teacher, but we build you the building. Just joking. That's something what I see even in Mali, in hundreds of villages where development aid were constructing building, but nobody take care of who will pay the teacher.
[00:19:47.410] - Torsten S
So schools are not working, they're just closed in new buildings, never a teacher. And so we learned that a different culture and a different also tradition needs different solutions. You cannot come as a white person and just think that everything went like, you know, that from Germany, especially in electricity. So if you look to diesel chancets, what is my personal enemy? I founded the company to really stop diesel transits in Africa. For me, it was in the beginning very difficult to convince our partners and the governments to stop diesel chances, even in hybrid solutions, because the World Bank was providing the information that a solar system is only working well if you add a diesel champ set. And I said no, it's possible already with pure photovoltaic and battery systems. So in the beginning I had really a technical fight with technical advisers from the government who said no. The World Banks say in their report we need to put a diesel transit on site and say no, I don't want to have diesel because it's fossil and it's against environment. So we designed the first really pure battery PV system, what is independently working until today in Mali.
[00:21:24.390] - Torsten S
It was our pilot project in Mojo 2014. And we just installed four weeks ago the first pure renewable off grid set in Madagascar. There are also other mini grids with solar, but they have always 30 40% fossil energy into it. The reason is technically because the frequency what a diesel chance that gives into the network is normally needed to have a stability. So we do that with a lithium battery. And so you see, there also really predicament change what we bring in solar technology in the African continent, and that we are very proud. Meanwhile, my pilot project in merger 2014 is the new World Bank standard for mini in Africa. So if you look over years, it's step by step by step and our I will say secret is that we just listen to what people need on the ground and then we develop products for them. So we have for example, a fridge that only needs 8 hours per day access to electricity. Why? Because even here in Dhaka, even in many African cities, you have electricity, but not 24 hours. So you have power cuts sometimes for 30 minutes, sometimes for 4 hours and in the rainy season you even have it for six 8 hours a day.
[00:22:53.310] - Torsten S
So we develop products who can handle these power cuts. And in Europe people ask me what stupid product is that for? What? You need that? But they don't understand that on the ground we have, we're facing huge problems with quality of electricity, not only access to electricity.
[00:23:13.680] - Torsten
So you do have a technical team or do you use external companies to design your systems? Or how do you go about it?
[00:23:23.830] - Torsten S
Well, I will say there is a master brain in Africa, green Tech. That's me. Because I have this ground experience. I'm happy that I can now bring much more local people and they follow me. Katie is just we come here and we talk about different size of solutions and she told me that's great, I can learn so much and they like to know this information. But I think especially Africa, fintech is the specialty that I personally visited more than 200 rural villages in the Sahel, even in war zones. So I have seen what people go through and this knowledge helps me to then discuss with technical guys. I mean, technology, we have enough, I can say there is an existing solution for everything. The biggest problem to bring these technical solutions into a rural area in Africa is only finance. So convincing investors that somebody will make it run into the ground. This is the big problem because even World Bank finance or German government finance projects failed because people didn't really think about a sustainable business. Meaning how I can convince local people that they take care about that, what you bring to them.
[00:25:01.950] - Torsten
So how do you do that? How do you make sure that big chunk of technology you dump is then maintained and operated and used in the design way? How do you do that? Right. Because you mentioned that school, the school in Mali that they just deserted, right? Nobody knows, there's no teachers, there's possibly no books. So how do you make sure that it's truly sustainable and things are used for 10, 20, 30 years?
[00:25:33.420] - Torsten S
Yeah, there are two answers. One answer is our own business model. We don't sell containers, we don't sell photovoltaicic modules or batteries. We run them as an operator. So we sell electricity, drinking water and cool chain solutions there. We rent it out so people rent cool space. They don't have to buy our products. It's the most complicated and difficult way to do it because we have to be on the ground 15 years with the community. But this first of all creates a base of trust because these people know, hey, this guy with the beard, he invested a million dollars in our village, so he is interesting that we will pay his bills. So it's a quite interesting kind of dependency from each other. So they depend that I run my engines and I depend on them, that they pay my bills. And the second phase aspect is then that you treat these people not as victims, you treat them as clients. And if you take care about your client, you as a provider, you look that your client is satisfied. This creates a much stronger trust because Kadeem mentioned the welder. The Welders is the group of clients what is the most valuable client for us because they took a lot of energy each month.
[00:27:08.680] - Torsten S
Then you start looking into the business model, what a welder in a village in Mali really needs. And then you see what kind of materials, what kind of clients, what kind of products he is doing and we create special tariff systems for them because for example, you are from the photovoltaic industry, you know that you have phases in the day where the sun is stronger than for example, in the evening. So we make them a better price if they work in, I can say happy hours, because we have time where the private clients are outside on the field, because most of them are farmers, so they don't use the electricity, what the container produces. So we take the vendors and say look, all farmers are out from eleven to four. So in this period you get the half price of the electricity. So they change their production time to the time where the electricity from IGT is much cheaper.
[00:28:15.540] - Torsten
So your system is already far ahead of Germany, where there's still far away ahead. So one time you teach Germany.
[00:28:30.100] - Torsten S
If you do doing good things to Germans, they even complain and say oh, that is missing, that is missing Torson in the village, in Mali, for example, in Niger, if they know we're coming, 5000 people are right and left on the street and singing at Et. That's the way how happy our clients are, because stay on the ground.
[00:28:56.760] - Torsten
This is like dangerous for your site.
[00:29:00.490] - Torsten S
No, I mean I have enough stress with convincing investors for the company. To be honest, that's the reason why I do this work. Because this positive thankful energy from our clients makes us also cuddy happy. I mean, you have the same experience in sports if children play football and they're making a challenge, making people lucky and happy and self determined and free. That's the craziest thing you can do as a human being.
[00:29:36.760] - Torsten
Only the other day you raised so many topics. Only the other day I read in a management book, and I think it's true, and I experienced it myself, was the strength of the founders becomes the weakness of the enterprise. And when you ran around and the guy with the beer, when you mentioned that there's only one of you, right. And as you keep growing, that's a dangerous thing, right?
[00:30:04.180] - Torsten S
This face is already behind us. Kudi is the best example, because Kudi.
[00:30:10.840] - Torsten
You'Re preparing for that she will replace.
[00:30:14.560] - Torsten S
Me as the front communicator, what I have since eight years. And I know that she will even do it more better and more authentic if you look to AGT as a company. But we see this, that's even a big problem for our funding rounds, because investors always say, I mean, you're working in terrorist zones. If these people hijack you or kill you, what will be with my money?
[00:30:41.650] - Torsten
Exactly. It looks like a one man show.
[00:30:45.280] - Torsten S
The keymen risk, so called by investors. But that's over because we have a group of directors now. It's seven people for the different departments. And I have a colleague in the board, Wolfgang, who is the CFO.
[00:31:02.860] - Torsten
[00:31:03.940] - Torsten S
He's even now in Ven, in surge. He was on the Noah on stage. So he talks over and he stays in Germany. I mean, he does not necessarily have to travel all the time to Africa because we do the groundwork. But he is the guy who is also in charge of everything. He has access to everything, and the team is also close to him. So today I can even say if something happened, HTT will survive even without me.
[00:31:30.980] - Torsten
And I'm proud to say that of course we hope for the opportunity.
[00:31:36.660] - Torsten S
No, but it's one of the first questions.
[00:31:42.980] - Torsten
So you mentioned that first standalone system in Niger, I think it was. What was the biggest learning you got from that project and other project? What's the biggest learning where you said, man, we didn't think of that, but it's essential to make the project successful. What's the key learning? Yeah.
[00:32:03.660] - Torsten S
That you cannot sell equipment to African communities. You cannot think that a high tech engine is working in a Malian village where it's 50 degrees, where people 90%. You cannot just leave them technology and think that something sustainable ran out of it. So this shift we made in the three first projects, because there we plan to sell the container to the community and they pay in monthly rates. But the idea was to train the village itself, like in Germany, we say in Osunshaft, like a cooperative and cooperative approach failed in the early three years of ATP. And then we switched to this much more difficult model where we own the asset and we sell the service, not the engine.
[00:33:08.300] - Torsten
So how do you acquire capital? Who's the typical investor?
[00:33:17.440] - Torsten S
There are three types of investors. There is the classic talent of people who spend a huge amount of money each year in donations because we have this hashtag investor spend. So invest, don't donate, invest. Because this is the philosophy of Mormidonos. He says invested dollar can get another dollar, donated dollar is lost. And this is exactly how we build the whole business model. And we are not in concurrence to NGOs who need donations for their work. But my personal opinion development aid should be split in two parts. One part is humanitarian urgency. So if there is a catastrophic and we need to help because people lost their houses, because there was a flood, something like that, for that money, for that help, we need donations for the future, even refugee camps, things like that. But all poverty and coming out of poverty, we will not solve with donations. Because if we give these people and that's not something an African problem, you find this in Indonesia, wherever you have poverty. And if you don't give people back their dignity and their self determination, you cut them the motivation to change. And this is the main aspect of our work.
[00:34:55.680] - Torsten S
So coming back to your question with the investor type, we try to talk to people who donate their money and say look, the better you invested, if we fail, you have the same effect like before, it's away your money. But if we make it, you can even have it back and reinvest it in other social businesses.
[00:35:21.390] - Torsten
Okay, so this is the first type.
[00:35:23.190] - Torsten S
So the classic philanthropists. Then we see many people like you, Torson, I know you are not super rich, but you are ready to invest webs per year 50 00 10,000 for that we have this crowdfunding campaign, what is even running at the moment, where you can invest in our German motherhouse to implement our equity. And the third group is, in my opinion, not the big DFIs or the funds who have lots of money for that what we do. But my experience is if somebody has to invest not its own money, it's much difficult because they go through a very strong due diligence and their Africa compliancy problems often kick us out in the process because we cannot guarantee that there is no corruption in Mali. We can say yes, we will not support corruption from our side, but we cannot guarantee that the whole government is corrupt. So that's the problem for many institutional investors. So in my opinion, it's better to have, I will say, entrepreneurs who are between 60 and 70, who say look, I have make a lots of money out of my business, I want to give back something. And these investors who invest $500,000, for example, realize a whole village, this is our, I will say best group.
[00:37:08.460] - Torsten S
Most of them are not easy to access because they are surrounded by tax consultants and lawyers who are risk averse like crazy because they were never in Africa. They don't see that. But if we have a meeting to. A person who made the money out of his own company. Over 30 years, we have a nearly 100% success quote that they invest in AGT because if they need me or Wolfgang and they see how much positive impact our work has on the people, they love us, I can say, but it's not easy to access these people.
[00:37:48.350] - Torsten
Yeah. How do you do it? It's a network. It's just a growing network recommendation.
[00:37:54.040] - Torsten S
That's my tremendous work in LinkedIn the last years because I started LinkedIn in 2008. At that time, some of you remember, it was Open, BC and Singh, who was very strong in German speaking countries in Switzerland and Austria. And there was Constantin Gerik, one of the co founders from LinkedIn is a German guy who lives in Palo Alto. And he addressed me because I was very strong network. I had a very strong network in Singh and he asked me torture, we have problems to convince Germans to open account on LinkedIn. Can you help us? And then we just made some networking events with Multiplicators and it went very well. They transform all their contacts to LinkedIn. So I can say, and I'm very proud to do so, that I was one of the accelerators for LinkedIn in Germany. And I'm very proud that today or this year, they voted me because LinkedIn, who voted me as a top voice to this network, now I have high access to CEOs, to other founders who then see my post and say, hey, you're right. We have to do something. What can we do together? And my answer is always just invest in Africa.
[00:39:19.550] - Kady
[00:39:22.020] - Torsten
Excellent, wonderful. So many starting points that come up in your statements. Kady and Tosini both mentioned Mohammed Yunus once. I think you should explain to the solar crowd, they might not familiar with him and what did he do and why is he why did you mention him?
[00:39:43.980] - Torsten S
Well, it's our mentor, I can say kadi's mentor from the sports Eunuch part and My from the pure social business part. Eunuch is he has a noble price for peace. And he gets this price 20 years ago for creating the microfinance system, so known as the Crimean Bank. He's a Bangladeshi and he put all his life to help people coming out of poverty. And this microfinance, meanwhile, it's a huge global industry, even with bad parts and dark sides. But the pure idea from Eunice was give a loan to women and this woman can get out, can buy something. It's a small investment. It was loans about five hundred dollars to one thousand dollars. And in the beginning they had a really successful payback quote from about 100%. So it went very well. And he brings millions of women out of poverty through this loans. And then meanwhile, there was a growing industry. Today, microfinance business is even in sustainable finance. Number one, if you look to two funds. So they created microfinance institutes all over the world. But the base idea comes from Uno. And for that idea he gets the Nobel Prize. And after he was so known, he was traveling a lot and bringing people this idea of social business.
[00:41:30.320] - Torsten S
Social business, if you look to Google, you find or better, you use Ecosia, you find lots of different explanations. But pure social business, in some words, needs that. You don't focus on maximizing the profit in money. You maximize the outcome of if your positive impact on nature, society and, yeah, the people. So the old explanation of sustainability, a balance between planet people and profit, and this is social business. And we are mentees, and there are many mentees out there. But UNUS, I can say he loves us also. We love him also. I was just in Tubing some weeks ago to meet him again personally because he's 82 now and we hope that he get 182. But he gives so much spiritual energy to the people. And I'm so happy to be part of this, I will say family, because these are all change makers. And that was a CEO of how is the name from the coffee there, the biggest coffee company, italy Lavatso.
[00:42:58.680] - Torsten
[00:42:59.080] - Torsten S
So the CEO of Lavatso was there. It's it's a huge coffee company. And he was so happy to have these social business people around that he even planned to change the whole Lavazo company into a social business. Now you see these spiritually strengths of Eunos and it loaded my battery fully. And I'm so happy that we be part of this idea of a post capitalism system what strengthen people who heal the world and not destroy the world. Perhaps you can add something.
[00:43:40.360] - Kady
Thank you. I think I can summarize units with two key points. One is let's put poverty into a museum because it's possible for us. And another one is let's do this with a smile and with joy all the time. So he's someone who smiles. And this is what I love about him so much as well. But I think I met him through the Olympic movement because now we have a partnership. I was a steering committee member for a program that we call Career Plus when we look at how athletes transition from sports and in the best way possible, through a successful post career as well. So now we had created a partnership with the Uni Sports Hub where we were training athletes to become entrepreneurs and preferably social entrepreneurs because we see the impact athletes can have and the general population as well. But also as sports values are much in common with social business values, of empowering, of community, of diversity. So that's where I think I met the unit sports hub. First, I was a training for one of their program because I wanted to start a foundation with them. So they trained me through a year and then I become a consultant and working really closely and understanding where impact is and how we find joy in bringing impact.
[00:45:02.010] - Kady
Because I think that's also very important. We have to bring. And it's actually scientific proof that when you're having impact on other people, you actually release some oxygen, and then you're a happier person. And I think that's why, probably rabbit units is such a happy person. And you always see him smiling, hugging and doing all that hard work that he has done because he's done tremendous. Even after just creating microfinance.
[00:45:34.780] - Torsten S
Put him in jail for his idea.
[00:45:37.500] - Kady
Foot foundation. So I think some very good idea and a very good role model that he is, but also with concrete solutions that we are using here to empower people and to see us source and set a new possibility, a new economic model that's sustainable and that can actually bring people out of poverty by bringing them business. Because he also believed that everyone was born an entrepreneur. So it doesn't matter which skills that you have, that you can do something. And that's why he believed that you invest $1, it should be reinvested. And that's really the idea of social business is that you make a profit that's reinvested and make even more profit. And that's what he used with those poor women. So it's very important what he's doing and also what his group is doing now as a job because he's guiding us as a business and as a business model. But we also, I think in Africa GreenTec finding our own solutions locally but using his models and as sources said, this is what's suited what's best for Africa in the settlement that we have with the youngest, let's say continent now in ages, what are the possibility?
[00:46:59.200] - Kady
And I think now we also will focus on the youth a lot looking forward and also an african jasperian community and what they can bring in within Africa. Green tech, as Thorson was saying, even as investors as well, because we know that there are a lot of Africans who want to just support Africa, and we want to open that possibility as well.
[00:47:24.620] - Torsten
Wonderful, thanks a lot for that. When we talk about social entrepreneurship, some misunderstand that it's not about making profit, it's only about making other impact rather than profit. But that's not the case, right? So you are allowed to make profit if you want to become a social, right? Because otherwise it's not sustainable, right? Otherwise you need more and more money all the time, right? So it's being a normal entrepreneur. But the major target is not only profit, right?
[00:48:08.620] - Torsten S
In the pure social business, I mean, they are different, they are great, it's not only black and white and definition is also flexible. But if you follow the rules from social business, how you see it all profits, what a company made has to be reinvested in the company. In our case, it's not possible because we cannot actually convince huge investors and if you want to scale, you really need bigger amounts of capital to invest in the infrastructure. So our model is we call us a purpose driven for profit company. So it's equal. I mean, we try to pay the expected interest rate to our investors, but our own focus on the company is to maximize the impact on our clients. But that's exactly the big problem that people don't understand, really the idea behind it, and they are not ready for it. I mean, in the moment impact investing and impact driven investing is more green and whitewashing than following, really, an idea, a new idea of investing. Just an old idea to make profit in a greener way. But AGT and UNOS and all these people in the social entrepreneurship scene, they fight for a new system where money is needed and welcome and salary have to be paid.
[00:49:45.310] - Torsten S
Everything stays the same. But the main focus is not on maximizing double digit interest rates, maximizing the outcome on even the own people. I mean, Kadi said a very important point to be happy, look to tremendous paid people in Germany, in companies who are working for a bad company, who destroy the environment. They get a huge salary. If you work for Shell or BP, I mean, how horrible must that be? And these people are not lucky. They can buy five cars and go to holidays six times a year, but they are not happy because they know they destroy the environment of our children. And that's what is much more important than money. And I hope many of our employees, they love to work with us, even they don't get the highest salary, what they can get in the market. And this is also an idea of unis, I think is much more important that people are happy, healthy and doing a good work for a good planet, for a good future. And it's really easy. Everybody can do it. Just don't work for bad companies. I mean, that's the easiest way to change the world because if they don't find any employees anymore, they have to cut it down.
[00:51:11.240] - Torsten
Wow. Super awesome. Hey, now is your time to run your commercial for your current fundraising. Where do you need money for? Why should people put the money on those? I don't know how many new projects you have there.
[00:51:32.490] - Torsten S
You mentioned the pipeline of 100 million. I think that you have to be explained because it's a huge number. But let give me the opportunity to say some words to frame it. Africa is a continent on the rice. Kadi mentioned it has the youngest population on the world. Half of the population of Africa is under 15 years. If we look into the global north to Germany, to Europe, to Japan, these societies are old. So this human capital, what we can find in Africa, is hungry. They want to do something. They want to be entrepreneur. They want to do something and not all of them want to migrate to Europe. They love to stay in their home, but they have no they don't have possibilities or they don't have perspectives. And if you looking now down to the situation of the economy in these countries, is that they have no industry. They import most of everything from the Global North, from China, but they have a huge potential in farming and they have huge potential in everything. What is close to, I mean, first value chain, in the production chain, if you're looking for loads, they have cotton here, but they export the cotton to Germany or to India or to China, and then they get back the closing what is made in the Global North.
[00:53:07.780] - Torsten S
So what will be if they have their own factories for T shirts or for clothes? So all these aspects. But there was in the geopolitical interest, there was the Global North, who wants to have this value in their own countries. So they push down the African development. And Het really wants to enable people in this first value chain, especially in agriculture, because remember, please, 75% of the people in Africa, they eat the food, what they produce themselves. It's not like in Germany that there are no aldi and lidl and river here. They have shops, they produce in their former garden, their own food. So helping to get a higher productivity that comes through this technical solutions. What Africa green deck is providing, it's renewable, sustainable energy, it's solar pumping, it's cool chain solutions. And that helps especially the farming, to get more value out of their products. Some of the productors productions here, they lose 70% of their of their farming results because they have no cool chain. So if two mangoes, they have a farmer has 100 tons of mangoes, but it's only 30 tons who gets to the market, the other is already destroyed.
[00:54:38.580] - Torsten S
So, coming to the question why you should invest in AGT, because we have all sources who are needed for a successful future. We have a young population who wants to work, we have sunshine like crazy. And we have this first value chain, what you can develop with electricity, very easy. And these three parts are rising up. And if people think that in Africa we are in a renewable energy situation, no, we aren't. These people here, even the industry is run by diesel, even not by coal or by nuclear power plants. They really burn diesel every day, billions of liters diesel every year. And this diesel they import also from Global North, they have raw oil, like Nigeria, they have raw oil, but they export the raw oil to the refineries in the Netherlands and then they rebuy the diesel and burn them for electricity. And that's we want to change. And in all this change, we have earnings. I mean, we can produce today electricity three times cheaper than our concurrences here with diesel chances. But what we need, we need the investment capital to install our solar power plants in villages, in cities. And we need this ten years, twelve years to pay back the loans by producing energy and selling the electricity.
[00:56:12.530] - Torsten S
And I think this is what people have to understand. It is a little bit of the same situation like 15 years before in Germany where we started with the Annoyobaran and Agasets, the government guarantee a fixed price per kilowatt hour and then all the banks were financing people who put some solar on their rooftop. In this situation especially, we do the same thing. We just install power plants and we sell electricity to a cheaper price than the market. And what we need is only the investment capital to do so. It's an easy thing, but people here Africa, and they say, oh, I don't put money to Africa. These plague people, they will steal all our money. And that's not the truth.
[00:57:02.920] - Kady
But then thank you Torson. I think as Torson mentioned, only 9% of electricity in Africa is through renewable energy sources. So I think as a young continent, Africa is also foreseeing its transformation. And if we want to support that, rather than supporting with the hunger stress, which is good, as Torson mentioned, that's emergency solution, but a sustainable way to support Africa is to support, for example, through energy transition. And now we're seeing trends. So we have different section in Africa GreenTec where we have for sure emergency situation, that's subsidiary in Africa, but we're also seeing East Africa who's asking us for demand and we have branches who are opening in Kenya, Zambia and potentially Okanda, where it's another transition that's ongoing. They really want renewable energy solution into existing electricity solutions that they have. And you can also support that. And I think that's the best way as an African that I would ask someone to generally support me is to give me the solution and the autonomy to be auto sufficient in the future. And I think that's what the youth of Africa will be dependent and wants. We want that opportunity to realize our dream and to be part of this global world and be able to contributing in a proud way.
[00:58:39.690] - Kady
For many years, as Torson said, it's been always been the image of just giving dropping rice to Africa. But now this is a modern way to contribute. Our series crop funding is ongoing so people can invest and hopefully we'll be happy to also open to other markets in the future, to more of a global market for investment. But at the same time also if you want to visit us and get to know more about Africa GreenTec, you can do that with zero carbon emissions. We have a virtual event which is coming, it's a met event, it's going to be on January 20, it's going to be online, you can subscribe to that. And it's going to be from two to 04:00 p.m.. It's on a meteor platform. We're happy to host up to 10,000 participants if you want from all over the world.
[00:59:31.400] - Torsten S
And then you can learn, you can.
[00:59:33.480] - Kady
Learn more about what we're doing on site. You can meet with our technicians, we can meet with our staff, you can even meet with some of our clients and see us virtually and see what we're doing. So please come and board.
[00:59:49.920] - Torsten
Excellent. And that takes us to my last question, since you finish it off so nicely. So what's your greatest bottleneck? You mentioned technology is an issue. We have all the technical solutions ready. What would accelerate your mission?
[01:00:09.540] - Torsten S
Long term loans under 3% interest rate.
[01:00:12.530] - Kady
Okay. I think finance is the only foreigner for now because we have so much. As we know, more than 600 million people in Africa still wait for electricity and the clean energy that it is for all of us.
[01:00:27.800] - Torsten S
And this is only the 600 million are only the people who have zero access to energy. We have 400 gigawatts running diesel transits what we can replace. So I mean, the demand is nearly unlimited because don't forget, if people start having electricity the demand, because then they start being productive, then they start to open their own businesses. And that's what we want. We don't want that people migrate to another country. And I mean, the migration to Europe is our biggest fear in the political part. But most of the African sub Saharan Africans don't migrate to Europe. They even can afford it. They migrate to the neighbor countries and that puts instability to the government because then you have a European group sitting in a refugee camp and people who have even self nothing, they have to pay for these people from the neighbor country. That creates terrorism. I mean, if you look into the geopolitical circumstances, we have also this responsibility. And if we have not responsible to help, we have the responsibility to invest. Because we suck for centuries the raw material out of Africa to produce our phones, produce our computers, to run our cars.
[01:01:46.300] - Torsten S
It's time to give back. But the Africans are so proud. They don't want to have a donation. They would just want loans. Give us a loan to a fair interest rate. We want to be auto sufficient, we want to do our own thing. But we don't have access to funds because this value was created in the global north. And that thing is a very fair investment. And I think we can do something with the money, a good thing. And we are very transparent to Austin, as you know, you can look all what we do. And the MeToo event is a great opportunity to look behind the scenes. So I also it's free, you don't have to pay anything. It's carbon emission free. And you have 4 hours time to visit in the 3D world. Het is partners our villages and it's really a great opportunity. We are very happy thank you to meet you on that point. Because they loved our work, so they donated the event costs, what is 100,000 people to AGT to give us the platform to present ourselves. It's not we couldn't afford that huge thing because it's technically really interesting.
[01:03:02.770] - Torsten S
You're running around with other cars. You can say hello. It's really amazing. 20 January 02:00 p.m.. Yeah.
[01:03:13.120] - Kady
And we will be looking for you as well tomorrow.
[01:03:15.750] - Torsten S
Yeah. Torsten, you have to come there tomorrow.
[01:03:18.660] - Torsten
I'll be there. Hey, Kady, Torsten, thanks so much for joining. Thanks for the inspiration you gave me and hopefully all the other listeners. Amazing work that you do. Keep up the great work. Thanks a lot for coming.
[01:03:32.980] - Kady
Thank you. Thank you for having us.