ColdHubs, a Nigerian startup that operates solar-powered walk-in cold rooms, has been named the winner of stage 2 of the UK Aid-funded Global LEAP Awards Off-Grid Cold Chain Challenge (OGCCC).

For emerging the winner, ColdHubs was rewarded with a cash price of £75,000.

The OGCCC is an international competition to identify and promote the most energy-efficient, sustainable and cost-effective off-grid technologies and business models that can meet the cold storage requirements for fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products in off- and weak-grid areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

The OGCCC was run as part of the Ideas to Impact programme, which is funded by UK Aid delivered by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and implemented by IMC Worldwide.

Stage 2 winners

In June 2018, 10 companies were selected to progress to stage 2 of the OGCCC. Each finalist was given £10,000 to help defray deployment costs of their cold rooms.

For stage 2 of the competition, products underwent rigorous field-testing consisting of the technical performance captured through remote monitoring equipment and qualitative surveys administered on-site and over the phone. Temperature and energy performance was captured on some units for as long as six months.

Of the 10 finalists selected to move on to stage 2, six were able to set up their cold storage units on location. Of these, only four could put their cold units to productive use. Three out of four were local manufacturers.

An expert panel of four judges selected a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place solutions. The judges’ selections and the corresponding prize amounts awarded to each company are as follows: 1st Place – ColdHubs (Nigeria) £75,000, 2nd Place – EcoZen – £35,000, 3rd Place – FreshBox (Kenya) – £25,000 (India) and Runner Up – Ecolife (Uganda).

The OGCCC program team supports the expert judging outcome. Each of the four judges that participated has strong technical backgrounds in off-grid solar and cooling value chains.

The judges selected ColdHubs as the 1st place solution primarily due to the impact the company’s cold rooms had on women farmers and market vendors. ColdHubs’ cooling as a service business model was identified as highly scalable and innovative.

Musa Suleiman
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