Hugh Whalan, 2010 Anthill 30under30 Winner

Hugh Whalan, 2010 Anthill 30under30 Winner

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What is 30under30?

30under30 is an Anthill initiative that was launched in early 2008 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship among young Australians. Each year, we invite our readers to nominate young Australian entrepreneurs deserving of recognition for their outstanding entrepreneurial endeavours. More.

Hugh Whalan, ACT (b. 1983)

Name: Hugh Whalan
Age: 27 (Born: March 1983)
Gender: Male
State: ACT

Expanding the reach of sustainable energy is no easy task. Reducing poverty in developing nations while cutting back the world’s carbon footprint is a job of herculean proportions.

Meet Hugh Whalan, an Australian who has co-founded a nonprofit that is making those things happen.

Energy in Common develops loans that are used to pay for small projects for entrepreneurs in developing communities. The projects might entail the use of LED lights or solar power. Once the project is in place, the person or entity that financed the loan is paid back. That money can then be turned into a tax-deductible donation that the loaner can identify as a carbon offset.

It’s a complicated yet rewarding process, and Whalan is well-suited to the task. A graduate of the University of Sydney, he brought a background in green tech and carbon financing into a partnership with American scientist and engineer Scott Tudman. Together, they formed Energy in Common.

“We pulled off an idea (which people told us was crazy) with only a couple of thousand dollars, a lot of determination and persistence,” Whalan says. “We made a conscious decision to work in some of the least developed parts of the world, and we are doing it successfully.”

EIC works in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, and is about to expand into the Philippines. The organisation has eight staffers and four volunteers, along with partnerships with other nonprofts. On average, the entrepreneurs who receive EIC loans earn just over $5 a day; more than half have been women.

EIC’s work has attracted the attention of CNN and the Huffington Post, and has led to some columns by Whalan on HuffPo. Both of those exposures gave EIC a huge boost in credibility, Whalan says.

“I was told many times that what we were trying to do wouldn’t work,” he says. “Guess what? Our approach is working and is addressing the issue of energy poverty in the world.”


Hugh Whalan with some clean-energy recipients, thanks to the work of Energy in Common.

Hugh Whalan’s favorite quote:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

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To check out the full list of Anthill’s 30under30 winners, click here.

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  • Ohayboy1

    dodgy if you ask me