Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Josef A (JA:) I was an educator, advocacy journalist, anti-apartheid activist and rabble rouser for good causes.
MB: What led you to start Gigawatt Global?
JA: I co-founded the solar industry in Israel, and deployed $400 million in eight solar fields. Based on my work, we had requests from 58 countries across the developing world who asked for my help in jump-starting their industries, to not only fight climate change, but to also advance half a dozen other Sustainable Development Goals.
MB: What are the main problems you are trying to solve?
JA: There are 600 million people in Africa without access to power, while another 200-300 million are being powered by dirty and expensive diesel. The continent’s population will also double in a generation, making the need for sustainable energy production more critical. Gigawatt Global is in the solar market creation business, taking advantage of our first-mover positioning to develop and finance a country’s first utility-scale solar fields. We will soon be expanding to wind farms with our quadruple bottom-line approach.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now?
JA: Raising operating capital during the pandemic is the biggest challenge, although we are over-subscribed for the project financing of our solar fields. During this period, investors are not likely to conduct due diligence trips for investment, which is holding up our ability to scale. We are seeking a modest amount of financing from our ‘Friends & Families’ funds at an advantageous valuation until we can close our Series A funding.
MB: What is your vision for the future of your business?
JA: Our vision is to be a leading renewable energy impact investment platform in sub-Sahara Africa, bringing power to 50 million people by 2030 and catalysing significant social and economic development where it is needed the most.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
JA: Build a great team, manage assumptions of team members and investors on the time it will take to do something extraordinary. Always keep in mind the people whose lives you will be affecting. These journeys can be difficult but it makes the successes ever-more sweet.
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
JA – The impossible is often the untried.
MB – Who inspires you?
JA – Greta Thunberg and her army of young people.
MB – How do you define success?
JA – The ability to sleep in without worry, and cut inauguration ribbons at Africa solar fields every year.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
JA – Writing books.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
JA – My unwritten autobiography of Captain Sunshine, Green Rebel.
MB – What do you do to relax?
JA – Observe the Sabbath with my family, and keeping my phone off.
Discover the other MB100 leaders recognised for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2020, here.