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Making A Difference

Into the Light

Nicole Poindexter (MBA 1997)

More than 1.2 billion people worldwide live without access to electricity. Another 2 billion have limited electricity, just a few hours of often unreliable power a day. “It’s really hard for most of us to imagine a life without electricity,” says Nicole Poindexter (MBA 1997),cofounder and CEO of Energicity. “Modern life, as we know it, is impossible.”

Poindexter has seen the human and economic costs of “energy poverty” firsthand in rural Ghana. There, her startup is working to bring solar power to communities where highly flammable kerosene and expensive flashlight batteries are the primary sources of light.

She recalls hearing the dramatic story of a baby in need of urgent care in the middle of the night. The clinic had no electricity. As the doctor went to insert an IV, the batteries in the flashlight died. Eventually someone found a candle, and the IV was inserted by the light of a flame.

“It’s simple: health care improves dramatically with electricity,” says Poindexter, whose background is in sustainable energy. What began for her as an effort to create 100 percent renewable electrical grids, has since evolved into an opportunity to improve the environment as well as the quality of people’s lives, all at a cost that is less than the current alternatives.

In October 2015, eight months after Poindexter’s first trip to Ghana, Energicity completed its first solar farm in a village near Kumasi. Two weeks after the power was turned on, Poindexter returned to visit the community. “There was a five-foot-high speaker blasting music and they were having a huge dance party, which they has never able to do before,” she says. “Electricity changes everything.”

(Published April 2018)