Although access to mobile phones, retail banking and internet connectivity has soared in the past decade across the developing world, it remains a frustrating reality that over a billion people – across the continent and the rest of the developed world – have no access to electricity. Less than a quarter of Kenyans, for example, have access to the national grid.
Yet for BBOXX’s founders, the solution may lie outside traditional grid infrastructure. The next generation utility company provides solar power across the developing world, and aims to provide energy to 20m people by 2020 – an average of 1m people a year since the scale-up was established back in 2010.
It’s an ambitious task, but co-founders Chris Baker-Brian, Laurent Van Houcke and Mansoor Hamayun – who met while studying electrical engineering at Imperial – are meeting the challenge of delivering affordable energy to some of the world’s poorest. I caught up with Baker-Brian, the company’s co-founder and COO, ahead of his involvement in next week’s International Business Festival.
Philip Salter: BBOXX has no doubt encountered many challenges since 2010. What is your biggest obstacle to growth today?
Chris Baker-Brian: We currently have over 450 staff in the UK, Africa and China, and as we continue to scale at speed, so we must continue to invest heavily in fostering our workforce. We are expanding into new markets this year and sourcing talent can be a challenge. But it is essential that we install the expertise required to facilitate and support growth.
We work closely with Imperial College, University College London and Oxford University offering internships, PhD sponsorships and project collaboration which has been beneficial to students and enabled BBOXX to nurture future talent. Our proposition is an exciting one to prospective candidates: travel, diverse projects, and the opportunity to work for a company with social impact.