Zimbabwe isn’t doing well in terms of the crippling energy shortage. The disruption in power supply has impaired domestic, commercial, industrial and farming consumers. Frequent power cuts have immobilized businesses nationwide to the extent that some operations which require uninterrupted power supply have now shut down or limited the scale of operations. Others turned to expensive and unsustainable alternative power sources such as diesel power generation. Simbarashe Mhuriro, 32, has dared to challenge the widely accepted reality and changed it. He is the founder and Managing Director of Oxygen Energy, an independent power producer and renewable energy development company that specializes in utility-scale power plants and commercial rooftop projects.
The intense ambition and self-confidence have even earned Mhuriro a spot among the 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa. Earlier this year, the Africa Development Bank (ADA) approved a $965,000 grant to Oxygen Energy to support the development of a 20MW off-grid solar photovoltaic rooftop projects on buildings owned and managed by Zimbabwe’s largest property investment managers. Once completed, the project will power 226 buildings in total, supporting hundreds of small- and medium-sized enterprises throughout Zimbabwe.
Oxygen Energy’s business model is quite interesting. The company installs the solar solution but it doesn’t buy it. As a matter of fact, Mhuriro’s venture completely eliminated the financial burden on Oxygen’s balance sheet so there is no capital expenditure from the company. It’s a blue chip company, green at heart, which predicts the energy costs so they can hedge a certain percentage of their energy cost in the near future, which allowed them to plan for their businesses. In a nutshell, Oxygen Energy is an asset management financing company that installs solar onto the rooftops by securing a certain amount from you. The system enables everyone involved, including the financiers, the insurance and the clients to establish value for the business financially through solar energy.
A large number of businesses in Zimbabwe are looking to solar power not just as a renewable but as a way to eliminate costs. In a country where energy costs can be a big drain on businesses, Oxygen Energy comes like a boon.