Mobile Solar Cell Kiosk

Mobile Solar Cell Kiosk

Kigali, Rwandakigali, Rwanda
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The MSCC is a unique product that allows people to charge their cell phone or other small devices while on the go. The eco friendly design uses solar panels and lithium batteries with recyclable materials. It is the perfect solution for persons in developing countries with limited access to electricity.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

we could solve energy issues, unemployment and lack of access to internet all into one.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

If you need cash after hours where do you go? The ATM. If you run out of battery on your phone where do you go? To an electrical power source. However 70% of Sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to electricity. This is despite the 450M cell phone users in Africa (2nd largest world market). As the President of Rwanda noted the cell phone is no longer "an object of luxury and privilege [but] a basic necessity in Africa." From farmers getting better pricing options to students' access to education tools, cell phones are providing Africans with unprecedented access. Yet adequate energy infrastructure development is decades away. Many Africans walk miles to access electricity. Without reliable ways to charge cell phones, the vast potential of mobile technology will never be realized.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Millions of Africans go to the city and farm every day with minimum access to outlets for them to charge their cell phones. Our Mobile Solar Cell Charger (MSCC) provides a solution with the ability to charge up to 13 cell phones at a time. Imagine a system that is totally independent from a traditional grid. It produces and stores electricity using green technology (solar panels). The MSCC product can be loaded on a bicycle or motorcycle giving it the ability to be carried to its customer in heavy traffic places such as market places, bus stops, and universities. Rwanda is a case study for the potential of this technology. The system would give cell phone access to the 4.6M Rwandans who use cell phones. Ultimately about 60% of the products will be in cities and 40% in rural areas of Rwanda. We will be using a franchise model. Potential franchisees will be low income and motivated with entrepreneurial spirits.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our product is a moving device that can go where the customer is. This convenience can increase cell phone usage and access for millions as they go about their everyday activities. For example, let’s say John, a small business owner, is in the city conducting business. He has been on the phone for a long period of time researching and managing transactions for his business. His phone is nearly dead, but he still has critical business to handle. John sees an MSCC charge system next to his favorite restaurant so John plugs into the charge device. He gets a ticket that he will need to get his phone back and while he is having his lunch, his phone is charging. John does not need to worry about his phone because the franchisee is watching over it. 20 minutes later John is done with his lunch, he goes to get his phone that is almost fully charged. He pays 20 cents for the service, and goes to his next meeting. He did not waste anytime having to go back to his house to charge or look for an outlet .... he can continue his day with no interruption. The franchisee, Charles, knows that this restaurant is the most popular in Kigali. He loads the MSCC device he is renting on his bicycle, and picks a visible spot near the restaurant early in the day. After the lunch hour rush Charles moves to his afternoon location, a corner bus stop, to catch the rush hour traffic home.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Social Impact: ARED creates a positive social impact to both franchisees and customers. The franchise model goes beyond creating jobs (which East Africa desperately needs)—it creates entrepreneurs. Franchisees operate their own small enterprise, and through this learn the ins and outs, ups and downs of business. Why just employ when you can empower? We currently have 26 Solar kiosks on the ground, 30% are women and they averaging $150/month net. Customers receive an affordable path to reliable energy, enabling them to connect with friends, family, and business contacts out of the range of travel. Mobile technology also allows for the payment of bills and taxes in Rwanda, saving customers a trip to the capital. Environmental impact: ARED uses renewable technology to produce electricity to charge, also the battery system is a lithium phosphate battery which is a recycle battery.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Franchise model is a new model in East Africa. However, in January 2014 we started operating in Burundi. Our goal is to have about 400 MSK Each countries (Burundi and Rwanda) and offer a license fee deal to partners that would like to expand this model to other countries so we can expand much faster and adapt to different market challenges. We starting our expansion plan in 2015 which wil be Nigeria, Ghana and South Sudan. Our vision is to see 50000 smart solar kiosk on the ground in Africa alone.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Sustainability will be achieve when we developed 100 franchisee. ARED’s MSK is the model of scalability: it’s easy to operate, built for urban or rugged rural terrain, and virtually cost-free to operate as a franchisee. A single, simple design means that production, assembly, and shipping are streamlined and expedited. ARED has coordinated production and shipping partnerships to conduct bulk orders and assemble the units in country, reducing ship

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There is no widespread solution for cell phone charging access for the majority of users in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cell phone charging products cater to individual customers requiring them to charge in a household. Readyset is a portable cell phone charging product distributed in Uganda. The product requires connection to a single stationary solar panel which can require up to a day to charge; it is not mobile. MSCC unit can be carried any place there are large crowds and continuously charge. Chargebar and Gocharge are for profit companies that provide cell phone charging kiosks in Canada and New York City. Both products are stand alone models similar to an ATM. They require large amounts of electricity to function, are not mobile, and would unlikely serve the populations of Africa.
Team

Founding Story

My idea came during a trip to Burundi in 2009. During my trip I travelled much to visit family and friends, and do business for my equipment rental company. Charging my phone became impossible. I began to carry my charger with me, and search for a cafe or a bar that had an outlet where I could recharge. I would search in vain for an outlet to charge my phone or be forced to take a long trip home wasting hours of time. All of this limited my free time, and most importantly limited my ability to manage my business. Then I read an article that discussed a charging phone kiosk in the US and China. I realized that Burundi had ATM machines everywhere and a similar model could be used to charge your phone while you are on the go. After looking for different solutions, I decided to develop my own. 90% of all the charging systems are for individual users so I focused on a commercial system. I chose a green product because the energy sector in Africa is in desperate need of innovation.

Team

Danny Rumuri designed and built the ARED MSK prototype and will continue to be the lead designer and engineer, improving and upgrading the MSK through the testing phases. With 10 years of experience in the education and non-profit fields, Nellie Vigneron provides long term strategic consulting for ARED and sources public and private investment for the company.
About You
About You
First Name

Henri

Tell us about yourself/your team.

I am a native Rwandan with a background in computer science, but I am an entrepreneur at heart. I founded and developed trucking and construction businesses in both the US and Burundi. However, the green sector is where my passion is and I have been developing ARED for the last 3 years.
I've assembled an international team to bring ARED's first product to market. Jared Perczak is a Polish engineer with 15 years of experience in molding engineering and the auto industry. Ayana Gabriel of the US consults on long term strategy and sources public and private seed investment.

What makes you an intrapreneur? What are the skills, capabilities, and personality traits that make you an intrapreneur?

I have a big imagination and I believe in challenging the status quo and constantly improving are essential. Perseverance, to me, is the main thing that separates people who fail and those who win. It took me 10 years to have my first success in business. I am accustomed to doing everything in my business, from accounting to sales and marketing; therefore, it has given me a good sense of what it takes to run a business successfully.
For example, it took me two years to make my trucking company profitable. My family and friends told me several times to quit and find a job, but I did not because I knew if one person can be profitable in this business than I can. I kept going and finally after tweaking different techniques worked. I believe in this product and know it will be a success.

About Your Organization
Company Country

, Kigali

Primary country where this project is creating social impact

, kigali

Additional countries or regions

burundi, tanzania, kenya, uganda.

Industry

Construction

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Innovation
Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)

The Solution: Why is this solution innovative for your company and industry?

My ultimate goal is to change the way energy is produced and distributed in Africa. The cost to build a traditional power grid is substantial. Our system operates like a mobile micro grid using 2 solar panels, a lithium battery for storage, 10 alternators and manual charge capability. There is no device that has incorporated all these solutions into one unit. The 2nd innovation is the franchise model which will uplift poor communities by providing new revenue streams.

Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

The prototype was just built in October of 2012. Therefore, we haven't had the chance to measure an impact yet. In February 2013 we will begin doing market research and testing in Rwanda.

What is your projected impact over the next 1 to 3 years?

We want to focus on three areas: social, environmental and economic impact.
Social impact: We have developed a business model through franchising that will allow people in low income communities to be able to have a revenue stream. Our goal is to have between 500 to 1000 franchisees a year.
Environmental impact: Our product will have 0 carbon emissions with a minimal carbon foot print. All the parts will be recyclable and use acid free batteries. It’s not enough to have a green technology but we also need to take care of how we are going to dispose of our product after its life cycle.
Economic impact: We want to have an assembly line in house that will allow us to control the front and the back end of our product. Creating jobs in communities is very important.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Barriers are part of business, in this particular case our first product is an unproven concept in Africa.
Our main challenge will be to see if people are willing to pay for a charging service, and if so what would be a fair price. To solve that issue we decided to add other revenue streams such as advertisement and sponsorship. We believe that those added revenues will allow us to offer a competitive price.
Second, we need to look at competition, most of our competition focuses on the individual end users. However, no one has developed a system like ours that will incorporate mobility and green technology into one unit.
Finally, costs; we need to find a way to minimize production cost of our device. That is why we want to have the assembly line in house so this can be controlled.

Sustainability
What is the benefit or value you're creating for your business?

With 450M users, Africa has become the 2nd largest cell phone market in the world. Yet 70% of Sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to electricity. In Rwanda it is 16%; yet the cell phone penetration rate is 43%. ARED provides an innovative solution to this challenge using solar energy to provide mobile charging stations. This product will allow people to charge their cell phones while on work breaks, waiting for the bus, or in remote areas. This environmentally friendly solution would be 100% independent from a grid.

How are you leveraging internal resources (funds, time, knowledge, etc.) to support this initiative?

I bring 10 years of small business experience to this endeavor, operating businesses in two different countries. In September 2012 I closed my US business to focus on ARED full time. I have funded this business with $100K of savings that will last about a year. I have hired a strategic consultant who will work on acquiring seed funding for our first three years. A Polish engineering expert has just finished building our prototype, and we are ready for testing. He will continue to serve as a technical consultant. Finally, I am a native East African and have an extensive network in Rwanda and other countries. After living abroad for 20 years I am happy to return home to help invest in my country.

Expand on your answer, explaining the long-term funding and support plan.

Our long term funding will be based on equity loan and partnership with companies that will see an added value with our product. Most of the cost will come from purchasing the materials to build our product. However, the cost should be recouped in 6 months to a year. We will have several revenue streams: rental contracts with franchisees, charging fees from customers, and advertisement space. The largest hurdles will be getting seed funding to start-up over the next two years, and developing a robust franchise model. Within the first three years with 1000 MSCC units we can reach the majority of persons in Rwanda. This estimates 100 unique users per week. The first path of expansion would be to other East African countries: Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria.

Tell us about your partnerships across your company and externally that are key to your project's success.

Our product will focus on the cell phone owner, therefore cell phone companies will be a perfect match for partnership. Our immediate goal is to develop a sponsorship agreement or non exclusive advertisement agreement with cell phone companies that will create a win win situation for both of us.

What internal support have you gotten for your project? What kind of push-back have you received?

As off 2013, we have not had any sponsors or investors. However we are in the first few months of start-up. We have received a lot of verbal support from people that believe this is a great idea with a high potential for success.