ColdHubs is a Nigerian company that operates solar-powered cold rooms, providing a pay-as-you-store service for fresh produce to smallholder farmers and market merchants. Since 2017, the company has shown substantial growth, more than doubling the number of cold rooms available. ColdHubs founder Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu is now planning a regional expansion, diversifying operations and moving away from cash-based transactions.
When ColdHubs was founded in 2015 in Owerri, in Imo State, its main objective was to provide an option for farmers and merchants who lost income as a result of the spoilage of fresh produce due to a lack of cold storage facilities. Each 3 square meters cooling unit can hold three tons of food, with customers renting 20kg-capacity crates to store their products at the hubs that are available all day, every day.
In 2017, two years after starting operations, the company ran 25 cold hubs in three states of Nigeria with a team of just seven. Today, it has 54 hubs in 22 states, with a total staff of 68. According to Ikegwuonu, it will have an additional 18 hubs switched on before the end of the year, with staff likely increasing to 85.
Over the last five years, ColdHubs has benefited from various grants to execute its expansion plans, including funds from USAID, Swiss RE Foundation and the Government of Japan. As part of funding received from GIZ, the German agency for international co-operation, it is now looking to expand to neighboring Benin.