Hey community,

I am currently considering getting involved in a young charity to support Energy related startups across Africa. However, I do have a hard time estimating the effectiveness of this endeavour and thinking this through from an EA perspective.

The general idea is the following:

  • Many places in Africa still suffer from Energy Poverty
  • There are many local entrepreneurs on the continent with domain knowledge tackling many of the most pressing issues
  • Locally, not much early stage investment is available and the entrepreneurs lack international visibility for attracting funding from overseas to get their ideas off the ground
  • The charity would provide some initial funding (e.g. pilot projects, necessary experiments) and international visibility to the startups (e.g. being the bridge to international Seed VCs)
  • Impact metrics to track effectiveness would be around startup success rates, job creation, follow-on funding and CO2 reductions

The charity itself ran a first pilot (financed with ~$200k by  https://www.get-invest.eu ) supporting 8 Startups (5x Kenya, 1x Nigeria, 1x Rwanda, 1x Ghana). 

Initial results seem promising even though the actual impact has not been properly measured yet. The Startups have raised in total $850k in follow-on funding through grants and/or investors. However, to be fair, it is probably not right to attribute the whole $850k to the impact of the charity, since some of the good startups would likely have raised money via grants either way.

A few reasons why my intuition is that it can generally be an effective thing to pursue:

I am still very much at the beginning of my endeavour and I am most certainly biased in my intuitions by how much I'd like this project to succeed. This is why I am seeking some thoughts and feedback from the EA community.

In particular, where I'd like to get some guidance:

  • Are there any good resources or discussions around the effectiveness Startup support in Africa ?
  • Are there any good resources or discussions around the effectiveness energy poverty reduction in Africa ?
  • If not, any recommendations how to think about this from an EA perspective?
  • Any immediate blindspots you see that I should be aware off?
  • Any good sources or contacts you could share?
  • Any other ideas that are worth considering in this context?

Thanks in advance!