At Ford Fund, we are excited to highlight some of our incredible Black-owned and Black-led partner organizations. The Ford Fund sponsors a Fellowship at the Watson Institute, a global, virtual program for advancing and scaling social entrepreneurs looking to take their venture and impact to the next level. Fellows like Nahja Clayton from Smart Change receive seed funding, training, and the opportunity to build a global network of mentors, teachers, and peers. In the coming weeks, stay tuned for more feature interviews with founders and leaders from some of our other deeply impactful partner organizations.
A Conversation with Nahja Clayton, Co-Founder, Smart Charge
Q. Nahja, why should people be excited about Smart Charge?
A. As the newest addition to the sharing economy, Smart Charge is the solution to on-the-go charging for handheld devices. Similar to a Bird scooter, Airbnb, or Lyft. We allow consumers to rent portable chargers on the go.
Imagine leaving home this morning and after dropping your kids off at school, you realize you forgot to charge your phone the night before. Your day is filled with appointments and you need your phone. Instead of buying a charger, you can rent a Smart Charger. Simply download the Smart Charge app and find the nearest kiosk location to pick up your charger. Scan the QR code on the kiosk to eject a portable Smart Charger. Charge your device while making all your appointments and return to any location when you’re done. Each charger is equipped with IOS, Type C, and Micro charging cords.
Not only is it innovative and cool, but it also contributes to reducing electronic waste. Instead of buying several chargers, there is now an option to conveniently rent a charger and return it.
Q. What inspired you to start Smart Charge?
A. Did I mention it’s innovative and cool? In addition to that, I didn’t have many role models in the tech space when I was younger. I’m proud to be a blueprint for young black girls in tech because I know how much it helps to see yourself reflected by those who are already making strides in the direction of your dreams. I’m even more inspired to be that face for them in technology and innovation.
Q. How did you come to the idea to found Smart Charge?
I had the opportunity to travel and teach English in Guangzhou, China. It was there that I met my partner, Kristy Craig, and we were introduced to the idea of a portable charging kiosk. It was an ah-ha moment for both of us, and we began the process of expanding the idea to the United States. In January 2022, we launched in Memphis, Tennessee and we’ve already expanded to Nashville.
Q. How can people support your business?