Kenyan solar startup Agsol is among three startups that have been selected for Microsoft’s third annual Airband Grant Fund. The grant is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative launched in 2017, whose goal is to expand the internet’s reach across the world.
Agsol builds solar-powered processing machines for farming communities not yet connected to the national electricity grid.
Agsol’s machines process crops, and all the excess power used for lighting, and mobile phone charging and powering small appliances.
Agsol will use the grant fund to help develop and deploy these cloud-connected agro-processing machines in East Africa to increase farmers’ efficiency, make energy more accessible to off-grid farming communities and ultimately improve yields.
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Other startups selected for the grant include Mesh Power, a startup from Kigali that has developed a smart, internet-connected, PV DC microgrid, providing 48V DC energy to customers at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions. ColdHubs from Nigeria was also among the winners. ColdHubs provides solar-powered walk-in cold rooms installed in rural markets to store and preserve perishable foods 24/7. Their technology eliminates loss of crops and increases farmers’ income.
According to Microsoft, the selected startups are overcoming barriers to provide affordable internet access to unconnected and underserved communities using TV white spaces (TVWS) and other promising last-mile access technologies.
”Our grant fund will provide financing, technology, mentorship, networking opportunities, and other support to help scale their innovative new technologies, services and business models,” Microsoft said in a statement.