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Startup Spotlight: Egypt-Based NoorNation Offers Renewable Energy Solutions To The Nation's Underserved Areas NoorNation's flagship product is LifeBox- a solar-powered mobile solution that offers clean electricity and safe water simultaneously for farming businesses.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed Edited by Aby Thomas

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Ragy Ramadan, founder, NoorNation

The following is a profile on one of the six startups that have been chosen to be in the second edition of PepsiCo's Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition- an annual program to support regional entrepreneurs or startups that are tackling a variety of climate-related challenges.

"Made by Africans to Africans." That is the tagline that defines Egypt-based renewable energy startup NoorNation, which offers decentralized energy and water infrastructure solutions to underserved areas within Egypt, as well as the wider sub-Saharan Africa. "From the remote and isolated rural and desert areas in Egypt, to rural villages and farming communities in the heart of the Moroccan oasis, we have witnessed how the lack of basic life essentials, such as energy and water, have hindered communities and individuals -particularly those involved in farming activities- from achieving self sufficiency over the past decade," Ragy Ramadan, founder of NoorNation, says. "We decided to create NoorNation to bridge those life essentials across Egypt and the MENA, by routing solar energy towards innovative, but uncommon, applications. Our renewable energy solutions thus provide necessary energy for agriculture such as water pumping for irrigation, and supplying safe water for domestic, potable, or livestock and poultry irrigation, using only solar power."

NoorNation's flagship product is LifeBox- a solar-powered mobile solution that offers clean electricity and safe water simultaneously for farming businesses. Entirely designed and manufactured within Egypt itself, it is a self-contained unit that can be quickly deployed to any given location. But that isn't all there is to LifeBox's appeal, Ramadan emphasizes. "LifeBox has up to 14 unique selling points (USPs), compared to other regular solar systems," he says. "The most distinguishing features include dual-supply of electricity and water from one unit, internet of things (IoT)-enabled tech that offers fully remote monitoring and control, as well as a plug-and-play functionality (i.e. it works with a computer system as soon as it is connected). Additionally, it acts as an all-in-one relief hub against climatic disasters and pandemics, serving those vulnerable to climate change."

Source: NoorNation

Note here the last USP that Ramadan states- it is perhaps the one that fully encapsulates the very reason for LifeBox's creation in the first place. "Climate change is already threatening the MENA's agricultural sector, smallholder farmers' livelihoods, and increasingly affecting food security," Ramadan explains. "In semi-arid areas across the continent, water stored underground can be less prone to climate change impacts and evaporation losses. Providing access to groundwater thus allows farmers to both overcome the vulnerabilities associated with the variability of rainfall, and enhance preparedness for drought. Access to supplemental groundwater is, in fact, a multisectoral investment in climate adaptation. Therefore, our promise is to build a more resilient agricultural sector, and our vision is to empower one million people in the MENA through providing them with their daily life essentials of clean energy and safe water for agriculture by 2028."

Now, although NoorNation became an officially registered company only in March 2022, the startup has been operational since 2020. Bootstrapped since 2021, it is currently attempting to raise a US$1 million seed fund round, whilst simultaneously negotiating to raise $200,000 in equity funds. But being accepted into PepsiCo's Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition has been the startup's most encouraging push towards realizing its regional goals as yet. "We see incredible value in being a part of PepsiCo's extensive network of subject matter experts and gaining access to 400,000 farmers, with almost half of them being smallholders," Ramadan says. "Embracing PepsiCo's pep+ strategy -which places sustainability and human capital at the heart of what they do- is inspiring and resonates deeply with our own startup's vision. With PepsiCo's support and expertise, we aim to expand our reach to serve more farmers, penetrate new markets, and develop a successfully recurring revenue model. We thus hope to create meaningful differences in the lives of farmers, and contribute to a more resilient and sustainable agricultural sector."

Ragy Ramadan, founder, NoorNation. Source: NoorNation

And while access to mentorship and industry insights is expected to play a direct role in finetuning NoorNation's business model, and, in turn, growing its sales, Ramadan's major focus is now on two things: product development and regional expansion. "Over the next six months, we want to further enhance our products both vertically and horizontally, including the possibility of integrating dripping irrigation [a type of irrigation that disperses water slowly, evenly, and directly near the roots of plants with the aim to conserve water] into our solutions," he reveals. "One of the key milestones we hope to achieve in the coming months is delivering our first LifeBox for water pumping and purification to Tanzania. This will have a positive impact on hundreds of farmers and communities, providing them with access to clean water and sustainable energy, driving our goal to contribute to a better livelihood for those we serve. We are also eager to collaborate closely with experts at PepsiCo to develop tailored and effective models for potato growers in Egypt. By working together, we can create technically and commercially sound solutions that address the unique needs of this specific agricultural sector."

Related: How PepsiCo Is Empowering Female Farmers For A Sustainable, Hunger-Free Future
Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

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