Cleantech & IoT Startup SOIL Chosen as One of WeWork’s Black-owned Business Grant Awardees

3 min readAug 16, 2020


ATLANTA, GA, 15 August 2020 — Atlanta startup SOIL, a startup specializing in power and connectivity innovation, has been selected as one of WeWork’s Black-owned Business Grant awardees. As part of the recognition, the tech startup will receive a $10,000 prize and resources for networking and growth from WeWork Labs.

Small businesses such as startups account for the vast majority of companies in the country. Yet research from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found that African-American entrepreneurs are three times more likely to have their profitability hurt by lack of access to capital.

In June 2020, WeWork launched the Black-owned Business Grant program as part of its mission to support Black founders. The initiative seeks to award over $2 million in funding to Black small business owners who operate out of WeWork offices around the country.

SOIL was among the 26 grantees from Atlanta and was recognized for its products that provide people access to energy and the internet anywhere in the world.

The startup is in the final stages of launching Griot, its next-generation multi-connection IoT platform that uses cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, and nanosatellites in low-earth orbit to deliver stable, last-mile internet access. Because Griot can switch from different connections — cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, and nanosatellite technology — the platform can provide total planetary coverage whether the unit is in a high-density urban area or a rural, off-grid location.

Griot uses a powerful AI-at-the-edge engine that enables machine learning, allowing it to automate and optimize functions without communicating with the cloud. All information transmitted on the Griot platform is encrypted by a Blockchain-like, IOTA distributed ledger technology. Griot is due for commercial release by Q4 2020.

On the energy front, the tech firm has developed Zawadi, a suite of solar-powered products designed to address energy poverty. The line includes a low-cost lamp, an AC power bank, a compact energy module, and a 100-watt miniature inverter. Recently, the portable 300-watt solar generator Zawadi Mobi 300 was upgraded to include solar panels and is now available for pre-order.

Griot and Zawadi are especially beneficial to developing countries that may not have the infrastructural capability to deliver adequate power and internet connectivity to their citizens. Technologies like these are vital resources during calamities, where the power grid and internet cabling are often compromised. Both can also be used to make cities run smarter, cleaner, and more efficiently.

These products were developed in line with SOIL’s mission to create solutions that help bridge the ever-widening digital divide. They also reflect the firm’s commitment to cleantech and a decentralized approach to solving pressing technological problems.

According to founder and CEO Kenyon Hall: “At SOIL, we are honored to receive this grant from the team at WeWork. During these unprecedented times of uncertainty, it’s great to have a company like WeWork take a stand and support black businesses. This grant will aid in our mission to develop products to enable power and connectivity everywhere.”

He adds that the additional funding will prove vital to research and development as SOIL has new products and innovations in the pipeline.

Aside from receiving the WeWork Black-owned Business Grant, SOIL was also selected as one of Established, LLC’s top 100 startups for 2019. It has also been featured in NASA iTech, Google for Startups, Consumer Electronics Show, and Founder Gym.

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SOIL combines cleantech and IoT to produce products for on and off-grid consumers with the main focus of bringing power and connectivity everywhere. SOIL is headquartered in Atlanta, GA.