A University of Wisconsin–Madison spinoff won the grand prize and three others won top awards in their categories in the 15th annual Governor’s Business Plan Contest on Wednesday.
The grand prize went to NovoMoto, a social enterprise company that packages and sells solar lighting systems under an innovative rent-to-own program in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The lights replace expensive kerosene lighting, said co-founder Mehrdad Arjmand in accepting the award. NovoMoto also snagged the business services category award.
The contest was organized by the Wisconsin Technology Council and sponsored by a wide range of public interest groups, technology businesses and providers of services to entrepreneurs. The contest began by winnowing 196 entries from 56 Wisconsin communities to 12 finalists, who gave seven-minute pitches on Tuesday at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference on the UW–Madison campus.
“We are pleased, happy,” said Arjmand, who recently earned a Ph.D. from the UW in engineering mechanics. “NovoMoto provides electricity to off-grid communities in Africa by providing solar lighting systems. They are now using kerosene, and that’s unhealthy and dangerous. We help them pay for the system in small installments. People in rural Africa cannot afford $100 or $200 (up front) for a system.” After a buyer pays the $2.15 per week payment, they receive a text with a code to unlock the system for another week. “After three years, they own the system,” Mehrdad says..
June 7, 2018 By David Tenenbaum
For News Media
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Mehrdad Arjmand, email@example.com, 608-628-5068
DOWNLOAD PHOTOS: https://uwmadison.box.com/v/2018-gov-biz-plan