What impact have you had?
We have started our project in Senegal in the province Tambacounda in Goudiri, a small city close to Mali. Around Goudiri are 72 little villages with 300-400 inhabitants each. We have employed the first senegalesian employee. The first 20 Solar systems have been installed on a micro credit basis. One of the 72 villages have now in several huts light. Every four weeks our employee is travelling to Goudiri (10 hirs by car), collect the credits, check the systems, try to get new customers and help starting little income generating businesses. We have also checked into Solar energy pumps, which we might offer in the near future. Water is available, but in very deep ponds.
We have started a Social Business to address this problem. We find the combination of social entrepreneurship to solve a social problem ideal. Governments and NGO can not solve these huge problem alone. Social businesses can help a lot if they focus on solving a social problem - in our case, poverty and not in maximizing personal profits. We are building up an organisation in Senegal already. We have our first employee and our pilot project in some little villages around Goudiri in the province of Tambacounda, 10 hours driving from Dakar has started. We have alrady 20 customers for our small Solar Home Systems. Our employee is travelling every 4 weeks to this region, collect the redits, look at the systems and helping people to start their own little revenue generating projects, now that they have access to energy.
We will continue step by step incrasing our customer base and reduce therefor the poverty in this region. We will extend our organization into other regions in Senegal and also other countries in West Africa. We will build up a Solar energy training center for our employees and a service organization to ensure hundred percent availablity of the systems
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
Customer orientation. Even if people are poor does not mean they don't know what they would need to develop. To listen to their needs and help them in their own development and not force them into an development which we think is good for them.
Choice - Not only one solution but several to fulfill different needs.
Micro credits - The systems can be bought with small, affordable monthly rates. After 12 to 24 months the Solar systems belong to them and our customer save a lot of money on energy costs.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
In the moment I can't think of any problem that could prevent us to be successful. A lack of sufficient financing only makes the success slow but will not stop it.