Ghana startup sets up battery recharging stations in rural villages

Ghana-startup-sets-up-battery-recharging-stations-in-rural-villages

[image credit: treehugger.com]

Rural residents use expensive, poor-quality batteries for power

In Ghana, where electricity reaches only about 16 percent of people outside major cities, residents rely heavily on batteries — to power the flashlights, radios, and cell phones that allow them to connect with the outside world and to work or study after sundown. But single-use batteries are expensive for people who often live on just a dollar or two a day.

A problem with the inexpensive throwaway batteries is that they leak and they can destroy devices. You can imagine the challenge that brings to people when an expensive torchlight or radio is damaged.

Solution: Startup sets up a rechargeable battery exchange program for rural villages

The dilemma inspired one Seattle-based entrepreneur, who decided that cheap rechargeable batteries could be part of the solution. Burro is a business that sells rechargeable batteries in the developing world, starting with a pilot program in Koforidua, Ghana, and sets up stations where they can be charged up at a fraction of the cost of buying new ones. In addition to being more affordable, the Burro batteries don't leak and are harmless if disposed in a landfill.

Once a week, each village on the route receives a visit from a Burro employee, who exchanges spent batteries for fresh ones. Villagers purchase small coupons they can use to pay for a battery swap.

Burro employees have noticed that the coupons are being used by villagers as an informal currency – one beneficial side effect of the program.

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Category: Energy

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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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