Online Clean Energy Products Portal

Online Clean Energy Products Portal

Arusha, TanzaniaHong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

TWB is building an Online Clean Energy Products Portal to streamline access to appropriate, affordable and quality Clean Energy products from qualified manufacturers for Small and Medium Clean Energy Enterprises in developing regions of the world.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Very simply, the problem is energy access in developing regions of the world. Today, 1.4 billion people live without electricity and 3 billion cannot access suitable energy for cooking and heating. This is why the UN General Assembly Declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. In its declaration it states: “…access to modern affordable energy services in developing countries is essential for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development, which would help to reduce poverty and to improve the conditions and standard of living for the majority of the world’s population."

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

An online Clean Energy products portal that provides end-to-end supply chain management between qualified, global manufacturers of Clean Energy products and Small and Medium Clean Energy Enterprises (SMCEEs)in developing regions of the world. The portal would allow networks of SMCEEs in the developing world to access bulk discounted Clean Energy technologies. SMCEEs contribute the most to local development, but lack the resources to efficiently access clean technologies from global suppliers. Conversely, many global suppliers find it challenging to access enterprises in developing countries. The portal effectively bridges this gap. It builds on existing models, e.g. Ace Hardware, which aggregates orders from individual franchisees world-wide into large quantity bulk orders; e-Choupal in India, which streamlines procurement of agricultural commodities from dispersed farmers and now serves over 4 million farmers in 40,000 villages through 6,500 computer kiosks across ten states.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our initial test project, if you will, is with Embark Energy whose founders include Phil LaRocco, co-founder of E+Co and Ellen Morris, Director of Energy programs at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Embark Energy has identified a network of over 20 Clean Energy enterprises in Tanzania. Embark's core strength is in Energy Finance and Online Learning. TWB' Products Portal is a perfect complement. TWB provides a one-stop marketplace of appropriate, affordable and quality Clean Energy products procured directly from qualified global manufacturers. Moreover, it also includes the supporting trading services to enable the efficient and cost-effective flow of goods from manufacturer to local enterprise. In the case of the entrepreneurs in Tanzania, we have already provided them with access to an online survey in order to better understand their product needs. An eCatalog would then provide them a comprehensive selection of products; an order management module would facilitate aggregation of small quantity orders into large 'bulk' orders; while logistics resources would enable the most cost-effective delivery of goods to local enterprises. Finally, the system would capture product flows from qualified manufacturers to qualified enterprises creating ready opportunities for trade finance collaborators.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are various portals serving participants in global trade (, clean energy ( or international development (Kopernik - today. However, TWB's Clean Energy Products Portal is truly unique in that it is the only one that has all of the following characteristics: * It is global * Has a Clean Energy Focus and.. * Developing country focus * Qualifies factories and products supplied * Has supply chain management resources * Facilitates new product development for the BoP * Enables BoP market research to better understand daily livelihood needs at the BoP * Creates Social, Economic and Environmental Impact

Founding Story

When I was 12 years old, I watched a TV commercial celebrating the 15th anniversary of the U.S. Peace Corps. I was fascinated by the very practical way that Peace Corps volunteers made a difference in the communities they served. A little over 10 years later, I too was a Peace Corps volunteer serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Later, I completed an MBA in International Management and relocated to Hong Kong to help run a global trading enterprise serving clients globally, though mainly ones in North America, Europe and Japan. My passion remained, however, to serve developing regions of the world. I realized that countries that participate in global trade tend to be more developed, and the least developed countries account for a very small percentage of global trade. I established Trade Without Borders (TWB), therefore, to expand the flow of goods to, from and between developing regions.
About You
TWBHK Limited
About You
About Your Organization
Organization Name

TWBHK Limited

Organization Country

, XX, Hong Kong

Country where this project is creating social impact

, AR, Arusha

Age of Innovator

Over 34

Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)

Access to financing, Access to supply chains, Access to technology, Access to economic opportunity.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

TWB’s Portal serves Small & Medium Clean Energy Enterprises.  In most economies, Small & Medium Enterprises contribute significantly to local economies. In developing regions, each SME can potentially serve as many as 5000 households. The TWB portal, therefore, through the SMEs it serves, would impact thousands of households, farms, small businesses, schools health clinics and more by more efficiently and cost effectively making clean energy products available to them.  In Tanzania, through the 20 enterprises we could impact as many as 100,000 households. If we scaled up to 50 enterprises in Tanzania, the numbers would increase accordingly.  We are also working in other countries in Africa and Developing Asia, including India, so our impact could be replicated many times more as we scale up globally.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

The TWB Portal would directly impact SMCEEs serving rural communities as well as Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and low-income communities in Tier 1 cities, providing them with access ‘clean’ energy solutions, such as Solar Lanterns, Solar Home Sets and system components for Micro Grids. It would enable each of those individual enterprises to procure Clean Energy supplies as effectively as major conglomerates. Given strong similarity in Clean Energy product needs in Developing Asia and Africa, which account for 95% of the energy access demand in developing regions, the portal's impact in 3 years would be significant, literally tens of thousands of households.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

The foundation for the portal has been laid. The Requirements Analysis completed, a comprehensive portfolio of Clean Energy products procured from qualified enterprises, and a network of Clean Energy enterprieses in Tanzania are interested in working with us. We are also joining an Incuabtion program at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park to focus our efforts on developing the portal. The main barrier for the portal's development is financial resources, which is a reason to pursue this funding opportunity and why we expect to devote a significant percentage of our time on accessing funidng resources in the coming months.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

The next 6 months will focus primarily on beta testing the products module of the portal and soliciting user feedback.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Develop and implement a Beta eCatalog and solicit feedback on the Beta eCatalog from enterprises in Tanzania.

Task 2

Develop the full scale version of the eCatalog with back-end product database.

Task 3

Initiate development and implementation of the other key modules for the portal

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

The intent over 12-months will be to then implement as many of the portal modules to enable it to be a fully functioning portal

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Complete development and implementation of the key modules for the portal

Task 2

Expand our services to networks of enterprises in other countries in Africa, as well as Developing Asia

Task 3

Focus on capturing essential data about our impact and communicating about this through social media and other channels.

Tell us about your partnerships

TWB has had 2 long-standing partners: NIIT Technologies and MKL Enterprises. NIIT provides TWB with an outsourced IT department while MKL provides China trading support services. Web design work and other online support has been provided on a pro bono basis by a long-time TWB supporter. TWB's admission into the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park will also provide TWB with access to technical resources for its Portal's development.
TWB's Board of Directors and Advisers includes Mr. Randy Belcher, CEO Asia for FOSSIL and Ms. Arina Campbell-Pitt, Senior I.T. Manager at Li & Fung.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Financing at different levels would be the most helpful. This includes Enterprise financing for TWB, as well as trade financing to support the flow of goods from manufacturer to local enterprise. The establishment of loan funds at the local level would also greatly support the access to clean energy products locally.
Related to this is the need for grant proposal writers.