Olugbenga Olubanjo: Founder & CEO of Reeddi – EP. 140

About Olugbenga Olubanjo & Reeddi:

Olugbenga Olubanjo is the founder & CEO of Reeddi, a Nigerian start-up that seeks to bring power to the 70+ million Nigerians who don’t have reliable access.

Over 600 million people in Africa lack access to reliable power, but how do we solve the problem? Olugbenga created the Reeddi capsule, a rechargeable power bank that people can rent for just 50 cents per day.

Olu has already impacted thousands of people with his work, and his product was featured in The 100 Best Inventions of 2021 by TIME. This is a remarkable tale of taking matters into your own hands.

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3:10 – “I had a distinction in engineering and immediately got a scholarship into University of Toronto. But prior to that, I’ve always struggled with electricity in one way or the other…when I was in my second year, I couldn’t go for roughly two years because where my friend lived there was no electricity for a whole three years. There was zero. So everybody basically used a generator, and everybody was using – when I was growing up, my parents, we had this lantern. We were four kids, my parents gave us, everyone had their own lanterns to do their assignments. So I’ve lived that life which is the normal for me. So when I left Nigeria to Toronto for the first time in my life, I had access to electricity and my productivity quadrupled.”


Reeddi Capsules Give Nigerians Access To Electricity For Just $0.50 A Day

*6:02 – “You’ll recall in Nigeria, majority of people in Africa, live on less than $4 per day. Meaning that we can’t build a system that cost like $300 and $400 for them to buy. So my own thinking was that I need to build quality, but more importantly beside quality, I also need to make it very affordable and that was how Reeddi capsule came into play. That was how we started using the rental model, which allows people to, with just $0.50, people could access electricity on the go. So what we did was that we leverage on these local business owners, local stores, to distribute the Reeddi capsule because these guys exist already and people just go to them to rent capsules. They make money, we make money, the customer gets access to electricity and we keep that cycle rolling.”

7:35 – “I was able to see how important it is when you don’t worry about power, how it really affects your productivity. And like I said for the first time in my life, I had 24-hour access to electricity, for the first time. I came from a decent family where you barely get 24/7 electricity, based where I live. So it was a kind of total mind shift that if my productivity quadrupled, imagine what that would allow for some other kids or people like me, or even for myself, I’m asking myself, if I had had this electricity, maybe I would have done way better in school, maybe I’d have done way better, made more impact, worked on better projects. So it was just a mind shift.” 

12:38 – “I knew that more than 70 million Nigerians right now that have no access to electricity and the majority of them are living on less than $3 per day. So the question is that, any solution that we are going to build must be insanely affordable. It can’t be just affordable. And it’s also must be easy for them to access. So the question is: how will I build a very quality system – which is quite expensive – and make it equally very affordable for these people.” 

24-Hour Access To Electricity With A Reeddi Capsule

*16:21 – “So what happens is that when they go in the morning, they pick up the capsule at the rental station, they drop the one that depleted out the other day, they pick it up so the 24 hours start here. 8am for most. They go to their store with the capsule, they use it for the day, for their energy needs, which involves powering their phones, powering laptops, powering fans, TVs, basically basic devices that you need to just keep life going – radios, all these simple devices. So they’re using the power and when they’re coming back in the evening, they take the capsule home, they use it to power their lighting and all that kind of stuff at home and then the next morning they are dropping it off at the ambassador station and picking the new one entirely. A fully charged one.” 

35:07 – “This year we changed the motto of our company to ‘Make the Future.’ That’s actually what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make the future for a lot of people because at the end of the day that’s what we stand for. So if you are a small business owner and you’re able to save 40% of your energy expenses when you adopt a Reeddi capsule, that 40% can go into your business capital and that can increase your employee when you take that investment and put it into your business. So we are basically making a better future for you. If you are a student and you now have access to electricity and you’re able to write those exams, and pass those exams very well, then we are making the future for you.”

People Need To Be Aware Of This Digital Divide

*43:56 – (Ross) “It’s an idea that we’ve talked about on the show before, but I really love it, every time I see it – somebody who leaves their home country, they go learn something and then they bring something back. We’ve seen it a few times and it’s always a beautiful, beautiful thing to witness because the idea of taking something into your own hands, recognizing the problem and deciding that you’re going to do that for the good of the people, I mean, there’s nothing basically more noble on earth from my perspective. I think it’s an incredibly noble thing that you’re doing. It’s a great mission. And I think part of this is just starting, like you said, with the awareness, because a lot of people who do take these things for granted aren’t aware of what is sometimes called the digital divide or the gap between the haves and the have nots when it comes to technology and power and all of these things, especially in a world that is heading towards AI and heading towards all of these other – realizing that 600 million people have the potential to be left out of that future by virtue of not having power, that’s a big deal with huge consequences.” 

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