When she started her junior year after an organization internship that left her feeling unfulfilled, Jodie Wu ’09 changed into questioning her route as an engineer. Taking part in a D-Lab class project in Tanzania printed an answer to exercise her ardour for engineering to abet support rising markets in Africa while also having an impact. 

Wu remembers being naïve the first time she traveled to Africa: “As a pupil, you imagine that that you just can assign the enviornment in three weeks.” However within the future of that tell over with and several return trips throughout the MIT Priscilla King Gray Public Carrier Heart, she started to imprint the scope of complications confronted by rural communities there—complications she is still making an strive to sort out bigger than a decade later. 

Now based totally mostly in Rwanda, she is COO at ­OffGridBox, a Boston-based totally mostly startup whose all-in-one machine uses energy from solar panels to price batteries and purify water. Its customers include NGOs, companies, farms, faculties, hospitals and clinics, and householders. 


After graduation, Wu ran International Cycle Solutions, which she’d founded to raise a bicycle-powered maize sheller to smallholder farmers in Tanzania after successful the swap understanding fragment of the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. “The fragment that impressed me most about Tanzania changed into how folk can have so small nonetheless be so generous,” she says. “And I stuck with it this capability that of I luxuriate in the fieldwork. Some folk would possibly suppose, ‘Oh, bucket showers, automotive breakdowns—it’s labor,’ nonetheless for me, I’ve always taken it as adventure.” 

As Wu traveled to rural areas making an strive to promote her maize sheller and grew to develop into fluent in Swahili, she discovered that solar-powered merchandise had been in excessive take a look at in these communities. She shifted International Cycle Solutions to distributing solar lights outdated to selling the swap in 2017. 

Wu joined OffGridBox for the reason that startup’s solar-powered machine—which is contained in one 6x6x6-foot transport container—appealed to her as a sustainable, inexpensive solution for growing economies and distant locations lacking electrical infrastructure. The coolest thing in regards to the boxes has develop into in particular distinct within the future of the pandemic: the corporate changed into awarded funding throughout the USAID Energy Africa Opportunities Program to impress six authorities health centers, which support thousands of sufferers a month. 

Wu says these centers beforehand had inadequate vitality, in particular to toughen vaccine fridges, sterilizers, and infant heaters. Now they’ve vitality 24/7. “OffGridBox helps nurses and doctors assign lives,” she says. “With conclude to 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s health-care facilities lacking rating valid of entry to to electrical energy, there may well be loads more work to put.”

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