GLOBAL WIN FOR DAMIAN
Former Oakhill College student, Damian Veling found himself in Amsterdam this year winning a Global award for the start-up company, Okra Solar, he founded with Afnan Hannan.
The North Rocks resident and engineer was in Amsterdam with Afnan Hanna as part of booking.com’s 2019 Booking Booster accelerator program.
The three-week accelerator program of lectures, hands-on workshops and coaching sessions culminated in 10 teams in a final pitch to receive a scaling grant to help support the next stage of the startups’ projected growth.
Okra Solar from Australia and Impulse Travel from Columbia won the highest grants of $644,000.
Okra’s innovative solar grid technology aims to transform the energy market and provide affordable energy access for the more than one billion people currently living off-grid, providing them with new opportunities to share their unique communities with travelers and the world.
New partnerships with infrastructure development groups will see Okra energise 10,000 people across the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia, within the next 12 months.
Off-grid families in Cambodia that are connected to Okra’s pilot grids are powering lights, phone chargers, fans, TVs, water pumps, washing machines and refrigerators.
These communities are also using Okra to power agritech appliances like cricket incubators, egg incubators and rice dryers. The combined use of these appliances has helped off-grid families generate up to three times their normal annual income whilst transitioning into more modern, technology driven lifestyles.
Gillian Tans, President and CEO of Booking.com said: “I am so impressed by the incredible dedication of these amazing startups and the innovative solutions they are developing to protect communities and resources in every corner of the globe,” .
Afnan Hannan, Co-Founder and CEO of Okra Solar, said: “More than one billion people don't have the opportunities that come with energy access. We'll use the lessons we’ve learned and the funding we’ve received from the Booking Booster to make sure we can reach the 40,000 people currently waiting for our plug-and-play energy access solutions.”
“As energy unlocks opportunities, many of the people in these beautiful off-the-beaten-path destinations will start traveling and opening their doors to share their culture with the world.”
Okra solar founders Afnan Hannan and Damian Veling