By: Joy Odor/AbujaThe winners of the 2019 joint All On and United States African Development Foundation Nigeria Off-Grid Energy Challenge has been announced at the Solar Future Nigeria conference.The Nigeria Off-Grid Energy Challenge is a joint effort by the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and All On to develop, scale-up, or extend the use of renewable off-grid energy technologies to reach communities not served by existing power grids.Through the Challenge, USADF provides each of the selected energy enterprises $50,000 in grant seed capital while All On provides $50,000 in convertible debt.In addition to funding, the winners will also receive technical assistance from USADF’s local Nigerian technical partner Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI) and governance support from All On.“We are proud to partner with All On to advance our off-grid and renewable energy efforts in Nigeria,” says C.D. Glin, USADF’s President and CEO.“This partnership pioneers a blended finance model combining philanthropic grant capital with private sector investment funding to support selected Nigerian energy enterprises in growing their businesses, increasing access to power, and impacting people’s lives.”According to Dr. Wiebe Boer, the CEO of Nigeria-based All On, an off-grid energy impact investment company backed by Shell, “The 2019 Challenge built on the success of the 2018 edition with a larger and more competitive applicant pool.The companies that have emerged went through a rigorous review, due diligence, and business planning process.We are confident these emerging indigenous companies will all succeed and over time provide clean, affordable, and reliable energy at scale to unserved and underserved Nigerians.”The winners demonstrated expertise across a variety of technologies and business models.Sholep Energy Limited, Protergia Nigeria Limited, Entric Power Systems Limited, and Acob Lighting Technology Limited will deploy solar-powered mini-grids in underserved areas of the country.Pirano Energy Limited and ICE Solar Commercial Power Limited will deploy standalone Solar Energy Systems. Sosai Renewable Energies Company Limited and Nexgen Energy & Allied Services Limited will focus on energy for productive agricultural use. Finally, Greenage Technologies Power Systems Limited will provide locally made power storage and invertor solutions.According to Bola Ogidan, CEO of Pirano Energy, a Solar Energy System company serving the SME segment, “The Off-Grid Energy Challenge is a fantastic enabler for businesses like ours.Thanks to funds from USADF and All On, we at Pirano Energy can boost our rate of deployment of sustainable power to SMEs through our affordable Rent-to-Own schemes. Our solar solutions help SMEs cut their fossil fuel usage, saving them money which can be reinvested in their businesses to boost productivity and growth.”Habiba Ali of Sosai Renewable Energies, a distributor of renewable energy products in Nigeria, said, “The nexus between energy and agriculture is one that ensures the adoption of renewable energy in a faster manner to bring about the much needed profitability for companies who work in the sector.Our project will power solar dryers from the installed mini grids for a community that hitherto made losses from farming a major crop like pineapples.”“Congratulations to the winners and organizers of the 2019 Nigeria Off-Grid Energy Challenge,” says Damilola Ogunbiyi, Managing Director/CEO of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).“The companies that emerged from the 2019 edition demonstrate again the ingenuity of Nigerian entrepreneurs to develop homegrown solutions to address Nigeria’s energy access gap.With the enabling environment for off-grid solution providers that is now in place, and the additional support available through programs like the REA’s Nigeria Electrification Program, I am confident these companies will succeed.”The All On-USADF collaboration to co-finance innovative Nigerian off-grid energy companies is a three-year partnership to seed up to 30 companies in the country over the period. The application window for the 2020 edition of the challenge will open in mid-January 2020.