Energy in Emerging Markets Case Competition 2022

Student teams from Cambridge, Presidio, and Duke win $15,000 at 2022 Energy in Emerging Markets Case Competition

Students from Cambridge Judge Business School, Presidio Graduate School, and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business won the top three prizes at the 2022 Energy in Emerging Markets Case Competition (EEMCC).

Now in its tenth year, the competition attracted participation from 75 teams across more than 30 schools located in the Canada, France, Ghana, India, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This year’s competition was organized in partnership with Nithio, an AI-driven platform for clean energy investment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The competition provides a platform for creative and diverse teams of graduate students to propose unconventional, business-based solutions to energy access challenges affecting the developing world.  Part of Energy Week at Duke, the competition is organized by the MBA Energy Club at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and is sponsored by the James E. Rogers Energy Access Project at Duke.

A case focused on decentralized solutions

Nearly 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity, accounting for 77% of the world population that is lacking access. The access deficit is even greater in rural areas—and is especially severe in Sub-Saharan Africa. Given this urban-rural divide, bridging the access gap will require complementing the traditional approach of centralized grid electrification with innovative off-grid solutions. Decentralized energy, including solar home systems and mini-grids, can play a significant role in reaching populations that are far from the national grid.

Nithio, the industry partner for this year, has financed projects supporting household-level and other last-mile deployments in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. The company aims to advance clean energy access in these markets by providing debt finance to distributed energy providers—helping them make the products more accessible to end users.

Nithio is now considering expanding its financing services to a full range of energy access and service providers, including off-grid solutions, mini-grids, electric appliances, cooking solutions, diesel generator replacement, and productive uses of energy. Student teams were asked to propose a go-to-market strategy for Nithio’s expansion of its lending services within its existing markets.

Five finalist teams competed for $15,000 in prizes

On Nov. 7, five finalist teams pitched their business models for Nithio’s growth and diversification. This year’s final round was a hybrid session, with some competitors taking part in person and others joining virtually.

A Cambridge Judge Business School team took first place ($10,000):

  • Jatin Dhyani
  • Shashank Jasrapuria
  • Aparna Holenarasipura Sreedhara
  • Faisal Alhadi
  • Emily Cavanagh

A Presidio Graduate School team won second place ($4,000):

  • Amy Jiang
  • Claire Nevels
  • Scott Hancock

Third place ($1,000) went to a team from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business:

  • Yicheng Jia
  • Baicheng Rong
  • Ella (Zhuoyu) Shen
  • Jack (Zun) Yan
  • Winston (Jiajun) Zhong

The other finalist teams hailed from the IESE Business School and Duke University (Fuqua School of Business and Nicholas School of the Environment).

“We were so delighted to win on Monday—we couldn’t believe it as the other teams were just so excellent. It was such an honor to participate alongside such talent. Thank you and all the team at Duke for organizing this amazing competition and event,” said Emily Cavanagh (Cambridge Judge Business School).

Expert judges assessed competitors’ solutions

This year’s competition judges represented a range of organizations, including Schneider Electric, Actualize Solar, PwC, Nithio, Urlaub Strategies, AES Corporation, Modern Energy Partner, BayWa r.e. Americas, the Nicholas School of the Environment, and the James E. Rogers Energy Access Project (the competition sponsor).

“It was a vibrant event with really substantive presentations from students,” reflected Ardan Demirayak, an investment officer at Nithio who served as a judge. “Their insightful work penetrated beyond the challenging realities of the energy access industry and yielded interesting cleantech suggestions. We appreciate our partnership with Duke and the Duke MBA Energy Club’s fantastic work in organizing this event.”

In addition to evaluating the teams’ presentations, judges took part in a networking lunch with attendees, discussing their own work, professional trajectories, and offering career advice.

The 2022 competition organizing team was co-chaired by Petya Miteva (MBA/MEM ’24) and Francesca Chiappetta (MEM ’23).

The competition is part of Energy Week at Duke, an annual event series organized by dozens of students from across Duke’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability and the Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment at the Fuqua School of Business advise and support students’ efforts in keeping with the Duke Climate Commitment, which unites the university’s education, research, operations and public service missions to address the climate crisis.

Questions? Contact 2022 competition organizers Petya Miteva ( and Francesca Chiappetta (



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