2021 Young Alumnus of the Year
Afnan Hannan (BEc, BEng '14) is the 2021 ANU Young Alumnus of the Year for his entrepreneurship and commitment to providing affordable electricity to rural households across countries in Southeast Asia.
Afnan is the co-founder and CEO of Okra Solar, a startup that provides energy to people in remote communities who are living off the main grid system. Okra Solar works with local energy companies to provide relatively cheap solar and battery systems to remote communities to set them up on a microgrid system.
Today, more than 2,000 people across Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines access clean, affordable, and reliable energy sourced from Okra.
"800 million people today in the world are without access to electricity," says Afnan. "So, what can we actually do to bring power to these people? I had this in the back of my mind, when I studied at ANU."
Afnan graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (majoring in Renewable Energy) and Economics double degree at ANU. His interest in humanitarian engineering and his entrepreneurial bent of mind have made him passionate about solving big problems.
"I learned the work ethic and passion for solving problems at ANU, and now at Okra, I work with many of those lifelong friends who are ANU graduates too," says Afnan.
"What ANU taught me is accepting there is no single ultimate truth or right answer, but there is always room for going forward and every step forward is a step worth taking."
Okra Solar has received many accolades, including Best IoT Startup at the 2019 Australian IoT Awards, and TechCrunch 2019 IoT Startup of the Year. Afnan was also named alongside Damian Veling, co-founder of Okra Solar, in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2021 List in the Industry, Manufacturing & Energy category.
"To someone who has recently graduated, I'd say this -- you are primed to be the biggest change makers that the world has today," says Afnan.
"Young people right now are on the cutting-edge of knowledge and understanding. You are in a space where knowledge is increasing exponentially. You are primed to use this knowledge to push innovative game-changing solutions into the world.
"And if you have the conviction that you understand where the problem is, and that you can solve it, then you should just fully go for it."
Read stories of all our awards recipients at 2021 ANU Alumni Awards