Energy Crowdfunding made in Germany – Interview with Torsten Schreiber

Torsten Schreiber is one of the co-founders of German equity-based Crowdfunding-platform bettervest and project-partner of Africa Greentec. He calls himself a “Serial Social Heropreneur” and his vision is to change society from within by means of social entrepreneurship and to push the energy revolution forwards, not only in Germany, but also in lower developed areas. In an interview with Crowd-Fund-Port he talks about energy Crowdfunding and explains his plan to #unfucktheworld.

Crowd-Fund-Port: Torsten, you are strongly developing the idea of financing (green-) energy-projects through Crowdfunding. Please tell us a little bit about you and your projects.

Torsten Schreiber: I see Crowdfunding as an enormous chance to significantly engage young entrepreneurs to work closely on emotionally impactful projects and by doing so, further help to increase the prominence of a visionary project such as ours.

Our vision is to become the largest eco-driven, renewable de-centralized energy water and communications provider in the global south, by empowering men and women to self-determination and prosperity.

My personal motivation and drive comes from the deeply rooted conviction and desire to be able to change society from within by means of social entrepreneurship and the believe that we can live with our planet in peaceful harmony. My primary goal for which I try to recruit companions, is active climate protection.

Crowd-Fund-Port: It all started with bettervest, a German Crowdfunding-platform, which you co-founded. Which projects can be found there?

Torsten: bettervest started with the idea of strengthening the global energy revolution by introducing energy efficient concepts and projects. In order to make a significant and visible difference, as much effort is needed in actually saving energy by means of efficient technologies, as is by introducing and implementing new technologies such as Photovoltaics, water and wind power.  My main project, Africa GreenTec develops specific, fitting and holistic solutions to address this very need.

Crowd-Fund-Port: So Africa Greentec evolved from one of your bettervest projects, right?

Torsten: The Solartainer® project marked the first funding record for bettervest in 2015. Ever since, the platform and various new project related partners, successfully focus on less developed areas. The platform showcases interesting projects in the areas of renewable energy, efficient heating, efficient power and new business models.

I realized, the best way to put my talents to work, would be by fighting climate change in Africa and by enabling locals to take charge of their own lives by providing them with new and exciting technologies.

Crowd-Fund-Port:  Obviously cross-border Crowdfunding is important here. How do you think it will develop in the next years?

Torsten: Following the political agenda of, for instance our German government, clearly illuminates that the classical foreign aid model neither represent a working future model to solve the problems of The Global South, nor does it successfully address the problems of mass migration. What is needed, are investments, particularly into infrastructure, energy, agriculture and education, but the systems are not designed for that. Large lenders like “Die Weltbank” or the “African Development Bank” really only finance projects starting at 100 million €, which represents a huge gap in particular for projects of up to 500.000 €. These gaps can successfully be closed by investment platforms like bettervest, which then can provide the opportunity to investors of The Global North to directly engage in impact investment. Until now, this privilege was only provided to large institutional investors and hedge funds. I firmly believe we shall experience tremendous market growth in this segment, if qualified partners, particularly on the African side are chosen. Years of erroneous foreign aid has clearly left its mark.

Crowd-Fund-Port: You are combining your knowledge about energy-Crowdfunding, entrepreneurship and development aid. What is your big plan?

Torsten: As founders, both my wife and I, share a lifetime vision to provide 3 million people in Africa with clean energy, water and access to the internet. Many of our friends and supporters envision us to become the largest de-centralized energy and water supplier on the African continent. Let’s see who ends up being correct.

Crowd-Fund-Port: What are your biggest learnings when it comes to Crowdfunding? As a project-owner, but also as a platform-owner? Any recommendations?

Torsten: In order to have a successful Crowdfunding campaign the initiator needs authentic partners, co-workers and a transparent project, as the Crowd wants to partake, wants to participate as close as possible. This is not always easy, especially with projects in Africa, as circumstances can change rapidly and unpredictably. As a platform, one should know the investors as much as possible and especially the project owner should be able to provide a detailed assessment of the funding potential. Both sides need to communicate honestly and clearly in order to properly manage mutual expectations from the beginning.

Crowd-Fund-Port: Thank you for the interview!

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