In a groundbreaking initiative, Lagos-based startup Replast Engineering is catalyzing clean energy growth in Nigeria while empowering women-led businesses. Founded in 2021 by climate activist Steve Kelvin and Jennifer Johnson, the company is transforming the energy landscape with a focus on sustainability and female economic empowerment.
Replast is revolutionizing the energy sector by providing comprehensive solar solutions tailored for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) owned by women across Nigeria. Their unique business model combines affordable solar systems with equipment financing, enabling women entrepreneurs to sustainably expand their enterprises. Kelvin emphasized, “Reliable solar power not only unlocks incomes but also creates opportunities for marginalized women without reliable grid electricity.”
The company’s end-to-end solutions encompass solar hardware, installation services, maintenance support, and pioneering pay-as-you-go financing. Options range from basic solar home systems to larger capacity solutions suitable for small factories, mills, retail stores, and agriculture processors.
Since its inception in 2021, Replast has made significant strides, providing solar electricity to 53 women-led enterprises. Clients have experienced an average profit increase of 30% while embracing renewable energy. By replacing polluting diesel generators, Replast is not only contributing to economic prosperity but also avoiding over 45 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Addressing Energy Poverty and Gender Inequality
The inspiration behind Replast’s mission stems from the dual challenges of energy poverty and gender inequality prevalent in Nigeria. With over 80 million Nigerians lacking access to electricity, unreliable grid supply disproportionately affects women running microenterprises. Kelvin stated, “Persistent power problems were throttling women entrepreneurs everywhere we looked, and venturing into solar energy to address these interconnected challenges was the obvious solution.”
Unlocking Market Potential
Despite Nigeria’s abundant solar potential, less than 1% of the energy supply comes from renewables. Replast Engineering is poised to change this narrative by distributing solar solutions, reducing emissions, and unlocking socioeconomic opportunities for women-owned SMEs. The global off-grid solar market in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to attract up to $23 billion in investments this decade, and Replast aims to be at the forefront of this sustainability movement.
Co-founder Jennifer explained, “Our goal is ambitious growth across Nigeria and beyond. By combining technical expertise and emerging market financing, we can achieve a dramatic scale and impact.” The startup plans to extend its women-centered solar offerings to disadvantaged communities across West Africa over the next five years.
Vision for Change and Sustainable Development
Replast’s vision goes beyond providing clean energy; it aims to foster the next generation of female solar engineers and renewable energy financiers. Jennifer emphasized, “We put gender inclusiveness and empowerment on equal footing with energy access – leveraging solar so female entrepreneurs can thrive. It’s about recoupling environmental, social, and economic progress.”
The early success and client stories reinforce Replast’s potential for impact at scale. The startup’s solar installations have already indirectly benefited over 200 women, creating a ripple effect within each female business owner’s extended community. The path illuminated by Replast Engineering could power economic inclusion for marginalized communities across Africa, lighting the way towards a fossil-free future.