Energy Case Writing Competition Winners Power Up Solutions

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Winners announced in the Energy Case Writing Competition

Managed by WDI Publishing, the contest received submissions from 10 different countries and 14 universities around the world

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, 733 million people are currently living without electricity. Most of those off-grid populations are in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), often cooking or heating their homes with fuels that are harmful to their health and the environment. At the same time, global investments in renewable energy are at an all-time high, creating a new generation of entrepreneurs and businesses.

It’s in this environment that the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan (WDI) launched the Energy Innovation in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Global Case Writing Competition. Administered by WDI Publishing, the contest sought out new voices and expertise in the form of business case studies focused on energy solutions in emerging markets.

Case studies encourage current and future business leaders to expand their education, question their assumptions and discover innovative strategies. The development and use of these cases will help accelerate global understanding of how businesses are implementing energy technologies and innovations in LMICs. The contest received submissions from 10 different countries and 14 universities around the world.

“It was very gratifying to receive submissions from so many different countries and institutions,”  said Sandra Draheim, Manager of Case Publishing at WDI. “Clearly the clean energy challenge in LMICs is front and center within many academic institutions and other organizations globally.”

The top three winning cases feature businesses with energy at the heart of their operations, including new approaches to solar and wind energy.

“The energy sector is undergoing an incredible transition and this needs to be reflected in the types of case studies available for students who will be navigating these changes,” said Dana Gorodetsky, WDI Program Manager, Energy. “It’s exciting to see so many dynamic entries for the competition that reflect innovation, creativity and access.”

The energy sector is undergoing an incredible transition and this needs to be reflected in the types of case studies available for students who will be navigating these changes.

Case Writing Competition Winners

First Place

Electric Moto-Taxis Innovation in Low-Income Countries: A Rider's Perspective in Kampala

Second Place

Paths to the Future of Solar Energy in Brazil

Third Place

Gigawatt Global: Electricity in Africa Fueled by the Power of Purpose

First place $3,000

Electric Moto-Taxis Innovation in Low-Income Countries: A Rider’s Perspective in Kampala

When he purchased an electric motorcycle, Sammy Kalunji – a self-employed microentrepreneur in Kampala, Uganda – joined the hundreds of low-emission transportation pioneers in the heavily polluted city at the end of 2022. Despite lower operating costs of the electric vehicle, known as an E-boda, Kalunji does not receive enough income to fully provide for his family. The case elaborates on four financial, operational, commercial, and social organization models and alternatives Kalunji must navigate so that he and his fellow E-boda riders can harness economic opportunities while spurring green urban mobility.

Authors: Nathalie Prime, Professor of International Business & Sustainability and Scientific Director of the Chair Responsible Innovation in Africa at ESCP Business School in France; Akil Amiraly, Associate Researcher at Ecole Polytechnique in France; Mansoureh Hasannia Kolaee, PhD and Post-doctoral Researcher at Laval University in Quebec; Peter Kasaija, Research Associate at Urban Action Lab, Makerere University in Uganda.

Second place $2,000

Paths to the Future of Solar Energy in Brazil

The case aims to put students in the role of the protagonist Sergio Araújo, CEO of SolarEnergy, to assess the company’s next steps amid the arrival of new investors. SolarEnergy provides installation and maintenance services for photovoltaic panels in regions of Brazil. With shifts in the market and new government tax policies at the beginning of 2023, Araújo faces new market dynamics and challenges as new investors seek to multiply annual revenues by five within five years.

Authors: Eduardo Russo, Post-doctoral Researcher Coppead Graduate School of Business, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Marco Simões-Coelho, Associate Researcher, Coppead Graduate School of Business; Ariane Roder Figueira, Associate Professor at Coppead.

Third place: $1,000

Gigawatt Global: Electricity in Africa Fueled by the Power of Purpose

Gigawatt Global Coöperatief U.A., a multinational renewable energy company focused on the development and management of utility-scale solar and wind fields in emerging markets, faces a striking dilemma: the firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities may be limiting its efforts to bring clean energy to Africa. Gigawatt Global’s strategy is to partner with diverse stakeholders — energy financial entities, governments, development groups and other institutions — to structure renewable energy investments in emerging markets. As a mission-driven company, it invests significant resources into CSR efforts alongside each project it completes. The challenge for the company’s chief financial officer is determining the right balance between mission-fulfilling efforts worthy of investment, while also growing and thriving as a business in a market replete with uncertainties. The case presents conditions and potential decisions faced by the company’s chief operating officer trying to find the right balance.

Authors: Sheri Lambert, Associate Professor of Practice at Temple University; James Oldroyd, Associate Professor of Strategy, Brigham Young University; Narasimhan Srinivasan, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Connecticut; Lynne Sprugel, Adjunct Instructor of Management, University of Dallas.

Judges for the Energy Innovation in LMICs Global Case Writing Competition included:

Deeana Ahmed, Chief Strategy Officer at Our Next Energy (ONE). Ahmed holds a doctoral degree in neuroscience and nutrition from Columbia University, a Master of Science and Master of Public Health in policy from Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan. Ahmed is a published researcher and policy analyst who has conducted large policy evaluations for the NYC Department of Education, managed grants for a Silicon Valley non-profit, and owns and operates a start-up education technology firm. Ahmed is an alumnus of the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, where she led the development of the nationally and globally ranked solar car, InfiniUM’s battery pack.

Kate Gasparro, Director of Land Development and Sustainability at Bedrock Detroit. Gasparro is responsible for planning and implementing the company’s sustainability and district infrastructure strategies, lowering the carbon footprint of the built environment in Detroit and Cleveland. Gasparro earned a BS in Civil Engineering from Clemson University. She went on to earn an MA in International Policy and PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University.

Daniel Vermeer, Associate Professor of the Practice; Executive Director, Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Vermeer has spent three decades working on the world’s “grand challenges”, including water scarcity, climate change, and ocean sustainability through diverse roles in academia and business. His areas of expertise include sustainable development, business innovation, climate change, water management, and food systems. Prior to Duke, Vermeer led Coca-Cola’s water sustainability initiative and has also worked with leading companies and organizations including Google, Walmart, GE, Tesla, World Wildlife Fund and the UN Global Compact.

About WDI Publishing

WDI Publishing produces and distributes high-quality, cutting-edge business cases and other teaching materials for business schools around the globe with more than 700 cases in its collection reaching 800 universities and institutions around the world. Learn more about the case collection and future competitions at

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