What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
I lived for several years in very remote villages in the north of Laos working on a small rural development project. I discovered that there is both a high potential demand for electric lighting with real impact on improving daily village life, and a chance for business in renewable energy technology. The challenge was to figure out how to fit commercial operations with the diverse social structures in the villages. It is hard learning, but fascinating. Laos is a Marxist-Leninist state and a LDC intending to build a market economy on the Vietnamese model. Laos needs to catch up in just about everything for supporting business development. It fascinates me to work with Lao authorities on how to arrange for business development in these difficult conditions.
Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.
Andy Schroeter, director of Sunlabob Renewable Energy Ltd, is a successful German entrepreneur, who has 25 years of experience in renewable energy, infrastructure and operational logistics. During his 18 years of experience as company designer and manager, he implemented numerous visions of technical and design concepts that many never thought possible.
His 9 years of work in Laos with Sunlabob have made a significant impact on rural and countrywide infrastructure development. Besides, his efforts have provided commercially viable and affordable energy services to remote off-grid areas. The implementation of Public-Private Partnership programmes – in Schroeter’s opinion the only possible strategy for sustainable development – has lifted the enterprise to become the only internationally accredited and awarded Lao company. Thanks to their highly innovative solutions, Schroeter’s projects in the field of renewable energy have received recognition by numerous international awards, including the World Bank’s Development Marketplace and the German Solar Award in 2005, the BBC World Challenge in 2006, the Ashden Award in 2007, the World Bank’s Lighting Africa Award and the UNEP Sasakawa Prize in 2008.
Andy Schroeter is a professional in project and company design, management, technical design as well as practical implementation of renewable energy concepts, financial management and rural development.
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