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February 2015

2014 GSBI Alumni, Eco-fuel Africa, Awarded $1 Million from Verizon’s “Powerful Answers” Challenge

The Global Social Benefit Institute® (GSBI) trained Eco-fuel Africa during the 2014 GSBI Accelerator; Now Eco-fuel Africa reaches new heights

Sanga Moses of Eco-fuel Africa, a 2014 GSBI® Accelerator graduate, learned last week that he had beaten out more than 1,800 applicants to win $1 million from Verizon's Powerful Answers Award.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb 9, 2015 - Sanga Moses of Eco-fuel Africa, a 2014 GSBI® Accelerator graduate, learned last week that he had beaten out more than 1,800 applicants to win $1 million from Verizon's Powerful Answers Award.

The Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award is a year-long global challenge to discover and help bring to market technology-based solutions with the potential to change our world. The contest drew 1,870 submissions, with 40 finalists invited to pitch to officials in Palo Alto last year. Last week, Verizon announced four $1 million winners in the categories of education, healthcare, transportation and sustainability -- for which Eco-fuel Africa won. 

Eco-fuel Africa, based in Kampala, Uganda, teaches farmers to turn agricultural waste like sugar cane stalks or coffee or rice husks into “bio-char” for the production of green charcoal and fertilizer for their land. Eco-fuel Africa distributes the green charcoal through a network of marginalized women, who re-sell them to end users for 30 percent less than traditional charcoal. The process improves the livelihoods of the farmers, women and customers, and also reduces deforestation in Uganda where nearly 75% of forests are already lost.

“Sanga Moses came to GSBI with a heartwarming story of lives being changed,” said his mentor during the 10-month program, Steven White. “His time in the program was spent elaborating the impact with clear metrics, refining the business model, and sharpening his pitch to impact investors.  The result is a powerful human story combined with a tightly integrated, sustainable impact and business model.”

“We're so humbled here and very grateful to Verizon for their support,” said Moses, after learning of his award. He noted with thanks the assistance that the GSBI staff provided during the Accelerator, especially the investor pitch which he used in expanded form for Verizon’s competition.

“Thank you to the GSBI team. I will always be grateful to GSBI for all their support,” he said. “And yes, this will greatly improve our project,” he added. 

“GSBI believes innovation and entrepreneurship can provide a path out of poverty. We help social enterprises, like Eco-fuel Africa, scale their ventures to positively impact many more people,” says Pamela Roussos, senior director of the GSBI. “We were honored to work with Sanga as he strengthened his business model and effectively communicated his plan in a compelling way to impact investors such as Verizon. We will continue to support Sanga as Eco-fuel Africa grows in Uganda and throughout Sub-Saharan Africa”

In its announcement, Verizon noted that “Eco-fuel Africa is committed to fueling an environmentally and financially sustainable Africa,” The company noted that its green charcoal “reduces the rate of deforestation, creates sustainable local jobs, saves money and reduces indoor air pollution.”

“According to Eco-fuel Africa, 2 billion people across the globe depend on dirty and expensive wood-based fuels. As a result, 2 billion tons of biomass are burned each year, leading to unsustainable levels of deforestation and CO2 emissions,” Verizon noted.

The Global Social Benefit Institute
Based at Santa Clara University, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, the Global Social Benefit Institute® (GSBI) supports social entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions to the problems of poverty. We support these entrepreneurs at every stage of their organizations’ lifecycle through in-depth mentoring, instruction in best business practices, and connection to impact investors. We do this at no cost to the entrepreneurs. The GSBI believes innovation and entrepreneurship provide a sustainable path out of poverty. The GSBI is the flagship program of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS). 

The Center for Science, Technology, and Society
Founded in 1997, the Center for Science, Technology, and Society is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University that embody the University’s mission to create a more just, humane, and sustainable world. The Centers bring together the University’s students and faculty, the Silicon Valley community, and international social entrepreneurs who are employing innovative approaches to tackle the world’s most challenging problems. Through programs such as the GSBI, the Center has worked with over 300 social enterprises affording us unique insights into leading business models and innovations for the developing world and emerging markets. To learn more about the Center or any of our social benefit programs, please visit us at

Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, visit

Media Contacts
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121
Jaime Gusching | CSTS Marketing Manager | | 408-551-6048

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