Profile: Fatima Oyiza Ademoh, Ajima Farms – Finalist, West Africa

Ajima - Fatima Oyiza Ademoh photoBrief Biography:

Miss. Fatima Oyiza Ademoh is experienced in business development & renewable energy project development. Currently, she is the Project Developer for the Power Africa USADF funded off-grid energy project implemented by Ajima in Nigeria and an Entrepreneurship lecturer at Baze University. She recently served as the Business Development Executive at Novantus Energy. Fatima holds a BSc in Finance from the American University of Nigeria and an MSc in Financial Risk Management from the University of Leeds. Fatima has just completed the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship at the University of California- Davis placed in the specialized energy institute focused on energy entrepreneurship and Pathways to Zero Net Energy.

What is your off-grid energy business? Can you give a brief overview? How long have you been working on this business?

My off-grid energy business is called Waste-2-Watt. The Waste-to-Watt solution is unique as it’s not just focused on energy generation but also on waste treatment, energy efficiency and clean cooking technology which I believe is a necessary combination to achieve overall gains in reducing energy poverty in rural communities. The renewable energy mini-grid connects biogas electricity with off-grid households, and businesses via distribution mini-grid and smart metering by converting agricultural waste into electricity, cooking fuel and bio-fertilizer for the off-grid farming communities. Waste -to-Watt was founded in 2015 and construction began on our first site in 2016.

What inspired you to start working in off-grid energy?  Are there any key people who inspired you to work in this area?

I grew up in an environment where neighboring rural communities are deprived of access to modern energy services. However, most of these communities grow the foods that fed the population. Owing to lack of access to modern energy services, the farmers in these communities lack the capacity to add value to their farm produce and in most cases perishable farm produce get spoilt when the market for such produce is not immediately available. Absence of electricity has also denied the people access to clean water, quality education, and healthcare services. Because of absence of electricity, the security of most communities are threatened by robbers under the cover of darkness. This bitter scenario of energy poverty I witnessed has engraved the interest in tackling energy poverty in my heart.

Have you lived in a off-grid community?  What is something you want people with reliable energy to know about growing up off-grid?

I haven’t lived in a completely off-grid community but I grew up in an area where we have bad grid; meaning having less than three hours supply of grid electricity daily.

What are the main things you have learned while working as an entrepreneur in off-grid energy? Your biggest success and biggest failure? Key epiphanies or turning points?

My main lessons learnt is the importance of community sensitization and engagement while doing projects in communities, the community needs to know what is going on and support the project for it to be successfully, this has been one of our biggest successes as we have managed to establish a good working relationship with all groups within the community. We have not had any failures but one of the biggest challenges we had at the beginning of the project was securing land from the local government and after several unsuccessful attempts we approached the chief of our target community and he was able to provide us the land.

What has surprised you most about working as an off-grid energy entrepreneur?

The challenge is abundant which creates opportunities for entrepreneurs like myself.

The realization that with access to electricity in off-grid communities provides the opportunity for development which can create a ripple effect to other sectors.

What has been most difficult/most rewarding?

The most difficult has been logistics support due to the terrain of the rural community which makes it more expensive to move people and goods. The most rewarding has been the training successes of the youths in the community who now understands the biogas technology and can operate the system.

If you could share some wisdom with yourself 3 years ago, what would it be?  

Let your passion drive you.

Where do you hope to be 3 years from now?

I hope to have helped in driving the adoption of renewable energy technologies for rural electrification.

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