Sights set on Zambia

With just 1.5 months left until graduation, the final international business project is all that remains for the Executive MBA class of 2017. The project will bring Xintela research director Carl-Magnus Högerkorp and his group nearly 8,000 km south to Zambia to work with Swedish-Zambian company SupaMoto Energy and its clean energy concept.

It’s almost time for Africa! What is your assignment?
We are a group of ten people from the Executive MBA class of 2017 traveling to Zambia to work with a Swedish-Zambian company called SupaMoto Energy. SupaMoto Energy provides a clean energy concept that is incredibly fascinating, featuring a new clean and highly efficient fuel for both households and businesses made of residual biomass from weeds. SupaMoto Energy was started by Mattias Ohlson and Per Löfberg, and the company has operations in Lund and Lusaka, Zambia. They recently reached a deal with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) involving their fuel and stove concept.

Our project involves learning more about the company and gaining better insight into what it takes to build a business in this part of the world. We will analyze the business case on this basis and then wrap it up by producing material about SupaMoto Energy to be presented to investors looking for opportunities in Africa.

So, what stage of the preparations are you in now?
We are currently trying to gather as much information about the case as possible. We are learning about Zambia in general – about the political and economic situation, about macroeconomic factors affecting the country, and about SupaMoto Energy and everything going on with the company right now.

What’s the plan when you arrive?
We have scheduled several exciting meetings. For example, we will take a closer look at SupaMoto Energy’s business model and how its sales channels work. We will learn more about the company’s energy solution and the structure of its value chain, as well as how their concept makes a difference for Zambians. We will also speak with local government representatives and meet business people at the Swedish embassy.

What do you hope to get out of the trip?
The most important aspect of the trip is being there on the ground to soak up and understand everything we can’t grasp while working on the project from back here in Lund. It should be a really productive and educational trip. So much is happening so fast in these emerging economies. That’s why it’s incredibly exciting to get the opportunity to take a closer look at one of the companies in the process of finding their niche on this enormous continent.

Business conditions in Zambia are very different from conditions in Sweden. The challenges include sharp currency exchange rate fluctuations, an ongoing energy crisis where the power grid is out for 4 to 8 hours a day, as well as challenges involving corruption and deficient infrastructure, roads and healthcare – and a large section of the population living in enormous poverty. Yet there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a will to change that will drive progress.

What are you looking forward to the most?
Leaving our relatively safe and predictable lives in Sweden to be exposed to a reality shared by such a large portion of the Earth’s population – living off of under $2 a day – but simultaneously realizing that this reality is changing rapidly with the spread of the internet and access to new cheap technology. For example, SupaMoto Energy also has a solar cell panel concept that has been sold in impressively high numbers and provides a reliable solution for charging your smartphone.

Is there anything you are nervous about?
Yes, that we won’t have enough time to do everything we want to do in Zambia.

How will you present your findings?
Our project will be reported both as a presentation and as a written report, and will be shared with EFL and SupaMoto Energy. We hope our work will prove to be useful to SupoMoto and their exciting journey into the future.