Saïd Entrepreneurs hone skills at The Oxford Foundry
Two students from Saïd Business School have secured a place in the latest cohort of 10 business start-ups to participate in The Oxford Foundry’s OXFO L.E.V8 accelerator programme.
James Dickson, who completed his MBA in 2018, and Ronit Kanwar who is currently studying a BA in Economics and Management, have been selected for their business, Empower Energy.
They founded the company to tackle the problem of access to energy for underprivileged communities in rural India. It is estimated that some 240 million Indians lack access to reliable energy sources. Empower has set up an innovative franchise model working with community entrepreneurs to first make basic electric appliances, such as lighting and mobile charging, affordable. As their network grows, Empower will continue to distribute additional products and services as demanded by their communities.
Launched in October 2017, The Oxford Foundry is the University of Oxford’s centre for entrepreneurial growth, which seeks to support all 24,000 Oxford students to develop their entrepreneurial skills or create and scale commercial ventures. It was initiated by Oxford Saïd building on the success of the Oxford Launchpad, previously home to the Entrepreneurship Centre and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, which now operate from the business school. To date, 2,300 of the University’s students have registered with The Foundry and it has delivered over 2,600 hours of learning.
Competition for a place on the second cohort of the accelerator programme was fierce: in just three months 235 applications were received – an increase of 55% from the number who applied for the first cohort.
James and Ronit will join nine other early-stage ventures spanning a rich diversity of industry sectors, including medtech, publishing, fintech, retail and energy. They will spend six months on the intensive L.E.V8 accelerator, which includes a tailored learning programme, financial and legal support, and access to a network of experts and mentors, in a package estimated to be worth a total of £60k per team.
Co-Founder of Empower Energy, Ronit Kanwar, says: ‘I am incredibly honoured to be part of the second cohort of the L.E.V8 programme. It is brilliant to see just how quickly the start-up space in Oxford has been shaped by the Foundry.'