Embark: Energy-Education-Entrepreneurship launched with partnership and program in East Africa

Embark-Graphic-209x175Arusha, Tanzania —18 January 2013

Embark Energy, Inc. is pleased to announce the launch of operations in East Africa with the opening of a hub in Arusha, Tanzania. This hub serves local energy entrepreneurs using its approach that synthesizes the best practices of the last two decades.

Embark’s team of experienced practitioners and newcomers to the field has created Embark Portal, which combines free distance learning with coaching leading to investment-ready business plans. Embark Portal then links entrepreneurs to enterprise finance and high quality energy products.

The innovation in Embark Portal lies in standardizing many processes for engaging and supporting entrepreneurs and combining this with local knowledge. The goal: to create thousands of clean energy enterprises rather than the hundreds we have in the world today. Because it uses distance learning plus coaching combined with standardization and customization, Embark Portal seeks economies of scale to lower transaction costs and create a financially sustainable business model.

In Tanzania, Embark has Livinus Manyanga and Audrey Desiderato leading the team to launch its 2013 work program, with a goal to create 150 new energy enterprises by the end of the first quarter 2014. The solar PV market in Tanzania is the first target market for Embark because of the particular challenge and opportunity it offers due to the very low level of energy access and limited economic opportunities for people. Only 15% of Tanzania’s households are connected to the grid, and rural areas are mostly un-served. Manyanga notes “Our local entrepreneurs have tremendous potential, but it is critical to provide them with the services and support that Embark offers to help create economic, social and environmental opportunities for people in Tanzania.”

Behind this innovative idea is a dedicated team of professionals. Embark counts among its assets the founders’ decades of experiences working in the energy enterprise space, including providing hands-on business development services, developing innovative financing mechanisms, pioneering monitoring and evaluation frameworks and cultivating a strong and committed network of partners.

According to Phil LaRocco, founder of E+Co in 1994 and its CEO until early 2009, “Embark takes what has been learned since 1990 and attempts to distill it into a user-friendly, investor and donor-responsive process that takes maximum advantage of information and communications technologies. Yes, it is a business development ‘platform’ among others but it is a ‘platform’ that is plugged into real people, two decades of on-the-ground experiences –both good and bad—and, most important its focus is basic energy, locally delivered.”

Embark is incorporated as a for-profit benefit[1] corporation. Thirty percent of its founding shares will be held in trust for the benefit of developing country energy entrepreneurs and related programs. This set-aside has been facilitated by the founders with the extraordinary support of the DOEN Foundation, a Dutch Fund devoted to breaking new ground in the sustainable energy space. One dimension of a benefit corporation is the appointment of an independent “Benefits Director” on its board. Jacob Winiecki, co-founder of SIMPA Networks, has generously agreed to serve in this capacity on the Embark Board. Jacob brings a wealth of hands-on experience to the energy enterprise and energy access sector. “I have worked with this team throughout the last decade and have confidence in both their commitment to excellence and their seriousness of intent. Enhancing the value of the share set-aside for developing country entrepreneurs is an important responsibility. I am pleased with the opportunity to do so.”

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About Embark

Embark Energy is a benefit corporation and social enterprise dedicated to radically increasing the scale of energy access in developing countries. The founders’ vision is a world where every person, community and small industry has access to affordable, demand-driven and reliable modern energy. Embark’s theory of change is that local enterprises are a critical lever in addressing the problem of energy poverty. First, they represent compelling value propositions to entrepreneurs who forge their own livelihoods, while simultaneously serving thousands of energy-poor households. Second, these enterprises can be replicated and scaled-up, leading to economic development, environmental preservation, improved health outcomes and social empowerment.

The Embark Team and its Partners:

  • Ellen Morris
  • Jennye Greene
  • Gina Rodolico
  • Phil LaRocco
  • Audrey Desiderato
  • Andrew Gisselquist
  • Livinus Mayanga and Kakute Ltd.
  • Eoghan Mackie and Challenges Worldwide
  • Diana Sierra
  • Evgenia Sokolova
  • Joe Fernandez and Trade Without Borders
[1] Registered in the State of New Jersey, U.S.A., a benefit corporation is a new class of corporation that voluntarily meets higher standards of public purpose, accountability, and transparency.