GLOBAL WIN FOR DAMIAN

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Community News -

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

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