The Business Year

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These companies focusing on solar home systems all strive to deliver affordable solutions to the base of the pyramid and improve the quality of life of millions

Miguel Koehler Sottomayor

Country Director, SolarWorks! Mozambique

We have been in Africa since 2006, and we entered Mozambique at the end of 2016. We entered Mozambique with the first system in the pay-as-you-go model. The systems are locked; when customers pay, they received a code via message that unlocks the system for a limited period. Initially, people were supposed to pay MZN18 per day (the cost of a candle), but we realized payments are more easily retrieved through installments, as customers would often skip daily payments. Thus, customers now pay installments over time until they reach the full value to own the system. We also experimented to find the right balance between down payments and installments to determine the ideal solution for Mozambican rural communities. Our sales approach to the communities is not door-to-door; we speak with the local leader, and he organizes a meeting for us to present our systems to the women of the village, responsible for the households, where we explain the health and economic benefits of SHS.

Anton Arkhipov

Managing Director, Epsilon Energia Solar

Epsilon was founded in 2017, and by 2019, the company had good growth in Manica province, its core area at the time. That year, however, we were badly affected by Cyclone Idai, which led to the immediate loss of about 30% of our clients, who lost their homes and incomes. Since then, the region has recovered gradually, but it has been challenging for us to recover the market. Our new strategy envisions engagement of local, commission-based agents. Besides fostering entrepreneurship in remote communities, this solution enables us to cut the costs of customer acquisition, logistics, and servicing remote areas for the time being. There are various grants helping us to get through this period of recovery, growth, and solidifying our business. Our 2020 goal is relatively modest: the sale of 2,500 solar home systems with progressive growth in the following years. We want a perfectly functioning model in Manica to be replicated in Gaza, Tete, Sofala, and Zambezia.

Luke Hodgkinson

Managing Director, Luke Hodgkinson

Our mission is to improve the quality of life of our millions of people across Africa through inclusive energy products and financial services. We started operations in Uganda in 2009, initially selling solar home systems for cash, targeting small business owners. Our business is vertically integrated: we design, manufacture, import, sell, distribute, and provide after-sales service to our customers. In 2014, we introduced the pay-as-you-go model, whereby a customer can pay an initial small deposit and then gradually repay the total sum using mobile money. This model proved pivotal for Fenix’s expansion, enabling us to reach wider segments of the population. We have now sold around 850,000 units and expanded to a number of countries, including Zambia, Cí´te d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Benin, and Mozambique. This expansion was also enabled by ENGIE’s acquisition of Fenix International in 2018, which gave it the financial robustness to expand so quickly. Partnerships with telecoms firms have been key to our success in all countries of operations, enabling us to reach a wider audience and drive prices down.

Yariv Cohen

Founder & CEO, Ignite Power

We founded Ignite seven years ago with the goal of connecting everyone everywhere and providing communities with sustainable, affordable, and safe power. Today, we have connected 2 million people across Africa for the first time, with a presence in 10,000 villages, providing more than 1 billion hours of light. We have thereby created employment for over 3,500 people. We are now present in eight countries from east to west. Mozambique is our first southern Africa country, and it will serve as the regional headquarters to expand our footprint in the hinterland countries, all of which have similar electrification rates and grid conditions as Mozambique. We generally serve countries that are not well connected, where we can really make an impact. We always enter countries ensuring an institution partnership with the government. The first year involves a great deal of learning and planning.



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