About ZOLA



The idea was not to build technology first, but instead to first understand customers’ needs and what they could afford. From those insights, the team could then develop technology that exactly fit customer demand.


It started with hitchhiking in Malawi. ZOLA Electric’s roots start in a trip co-founder Xavier Helgesen took in 2007 to Malawi. He ended up in a fishing village on the shores of Lake Malawi to a local family’s house for dinner. He learned that his hosts relied on dirty, expensive kerosene to light their homes. He began wondering why nobody he met had even a small solar power system. Was this a technology problem or something else?

Five years later, ZOLA Electric was launched initially known as Off-Grid Electric when Xavier, along his two co-founders Josh Pierce and Erica Mackey, moved to Tanzania to provide energy access to rural communities that lacked any grid infrastructure. 

Today, ZOLA is the leading brand in the markets it serves, offering a full hardware and software based energy ladder that can scale to solve any energy problem – rural, urban, off-grid, on-grid, residential or commercial.   ZOLA Electric is currently serving 1 million users, across two continents in over 10 countries.  The mission from the beginning was solving energy access in all forms, and today ZOLA is making that happen.

Our Executive Team

Bill Leninhan - CEO

Bill Lenihan

Chief Executive Officer

Partner @ Fremont Partners / Calera Capital, EVP International @ Switch Lighting, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, MBA @ Wharton, BA @ UCLA

Doye Ogionwo

Doye Ogionwo

Chief Commercial Officer

CEO @ Triffant Resources, Group CCO @ Helios Towers, Partner @ NEWE Partners, MBA @ Carnegie Mellon

Tony Hamilton

Chief Operating Officer

MD @ Aggreko Sub Saharan Africa, MD @ Aggreko NZ Pacific, GM @ Gough CAT Power Systems, BSc (Hon) Commerce

Sau Ngosi

Chief Technology Officer

CTO @ Schneider Electric, Board Member @ Warm Heart of Africa Foundation, P.Eng @APEGBC., B.Eng

Cherilyn Vossberg

Vice President - Human Capital

Organizational Effectiveness, HR Manager @ Maersk; MPhil Sustainable Energy @ UCT

Steven Van Maasakker

General Council

Executive Director Global Legal Affairs - General Counsel @ Heineken

Robert Falcon

Robert Falcon

VP Manufacturing and Supply chain

Martijn Bouwmeester

Martijn Bouwmeester

Finance Director @ Johnson & Johnson Msc. Industrial Engineering & Mgmt, Twente University

Launched as "M-Power"

Off-Grid electric (ZOLA Electric) is launched as "M-Power" in Arusha, Tanzania, attracting its first 1,000 customers by the end of 2012.


ZOLA earns its first funding

In its Series A venture capital financing round, ZOLA earns its first institutional funding in the pay-as-you-go solar sector. The company attracts SolarCity as its lead investor. SolarCity founder and CEO Lyndon Rive joins the board as ZOLA launches its second generation of hardware in Tanzania.


Expands to Tanzania

ZOLA rapidly expands across Tanzania as tens of thousands of customers start choosing the company’s products. ZOLA partners with the International Finance Corporation on a $7 Million facility for off-grid solar - another first in the industry.


Expands to Rwanda

ZOLA expands into Rwanda. ZOLA and EDF Energy announce a joint venture to expand energy access in West Africa, starting with Côte d'Ivoire.


Expands to Nigeria

ZOLA begins operations in Nigeria, Africa's biggest market. Nigeria has more diesel generators than households. Unlike its approach in other markets, ZOLA's target is not only off-grid households but also those that are connected to an unreliable grid that demands the use of dirty, dangerous and unhealthy diesel generators.



1 Million lives impacted

ZOLA’s products energize more than 1 million daily users. The company launches the INFINITY Integrated Power System, which provides 24-Hour AC Power Anywhere with lithium-ion batteries, solar panels & the grid as a backup, if available.


ZOLA's first Mini grid, Rwanda

The 120 kWp Gakagati project currently powers 931 homes, 58 businesses, 3 religious centres, a school, a health center and 5 irrigation systems, with an expected gradual capacity expansion to 240kWp over 2 years. ZOLA Electric’s groundbreaking INFINITY integrated power system is the core of the distributed mini-grid.



ZOLA Electric’s investment and commercial partners include Tesla, General Electric, EDF Energy, DBL Ventures, Helios Investment Partners and Total.

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