The goal to empower one billion people through energy access may seem overly ambitious, but it is that positive attitude that the team at Okra use to drive their constant innovation – that attitude and, since being involved with PFAN, a polished investment pitch. Okra is a plug-and-play technology solution that allows smart pay-as-you-go microgrids to be created by connecting existing off-the-shelf solar panels and batteries. While innovative technology was at the heart of the company, it would be the strategic guidance that would catapult the company towards profitability. “PFAN helped us understand project financing more effectively,” said Afnan Hannan, Okra’s co-founder and CEO. “Having our financial model assessed by people who’d seen and operated these models many times was incredibly helpful. PFAN put us in front of an audience of people who aren’t your typical venture capital investors. This exposure at an early stage helped us in planning our growth trajectory.”
Recognising the need for strategic insight, Hannan sought the advice of Cécile Dahomé, co-founder and executive director of Sevea, a green energy consultancy based in Cambodia. Dahomé introduced the team to PFAN and would go on to be the company’s mentor. The growth spurt provided by the network and Dahomé’s direct guidance as a PFAN advisor, the Okra team were able to tailor their offering and sharpen their approach for potential investors. Hannan especially appreciated that many of the infrastructure and project investors had a lot of experience in large energy investments.
Today the company is expanding in location and innovation. “We’ve got our new ‘Internet of Things’ product that lets energy companies set up plug-and-play microgrids anywhere,” said Hannan. The company is also focusing on powering productive loads, diversifying in their offering while building on their core technologies. Okra has come a long way, but it would appear that the original ambition and optimism hasn’t been thwarted in the company’s growth and development. Instead, it would appear that Hannan and team are even more electrified. “The next exciting stop on the journey is getting everyone in Cambodia and the Philippines energised.”
|Location||Cambodia, Philippines & Indonesia|
|Investment Amount (US$)||200,000|
|Technology||Plug-and-play smart DC microgrids|
|PFAN Regional Coordinator||Peter du Pont|