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SOLARKIOSK joins the Smart Communities Coalition to transform refugee settlements into digital communities

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Today Mastercard and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the launch of a public-private coalition that will bring together technology, solutions and experience from multiple sectors to transform refugee settlements into digitally-connected communities. This commitment delivers on a vision laid out in research conducted last year by Mastercard to better understand the critical needs of the over seven million refugees living in camps or settlements today.
 

The Smart Communities Coalition, led by Mastercard and USAID’s Power Africa initiative, will launch pilot programs during the first half of 2018 to address some of the biggest barriers to development. The organizations will work together to introduce internet and mobile connectivity, access to clean, efficient energy and digital financial tools for communities in Kenya and Uganda, with plans to scale to other refugee-hosting countries around the world.
 

“SOLARKIOSK is thrilled to be one of the founding members of the Smart Communities Coalition. We look forward to enabling our solar powered infrastructure, the E-HUBB, to become an integral part of the Coalition’s mission to bring renewable energy and economic generating opportunities to refugee and host communities.  With a network of over 200 E-HUBBs across Africa and Asia, experience with refugee and host communities in the Middle East and over five years of know-how in providing retail products and energy services to underserved markets, SOLARKIOSK can greatly contribute to the transformation led by the Coalition,” noted SOLARKIOSK’s co-founder and CEO Andreas Spiess.
 

In addition to Mastercard and Power Africa, organizations participating in the coalition alongside SOLARKIOSK include: Accenture, Acumen, BRCK, Danish Refugee Council, Energy Peace Partners, Fenix International, GSMA, The Innovation Village, Lutheran World Federation, Mercy Corps, Microsoft, Moving Energy Initiative, NetHope, Norwegian Refugee Council, Off-Grid Electric, Pawame, PowerGen Renewable Energy, Tent Foundation, USAID Global Development Lab, U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Vecna Cares Charitable Trusts, and World Vision.
 

Read the full press release here.
 

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SOLARKIOSK strengthens last mile distribution with motor bike safety training

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One of the most important factors in last mile distribution is enabling safe transport for your employees.
 

SOLARKIOSK’s Area Officers, who supervise the daily operations of SOLARKIOSK’s E-HUBBs, use motorbikes to visit the 5-8 E-HUBBs they manage. The roads leading to the E-HUBBs are generally in quite a rough condition: very dusty when it’s dry and very muddy when it’s raining. A motorbike is the most efficient way to travel within the 25 km radius of the E-HUBB cluster.
 

On their way to visit the E-HUBBs, Area Officers frequently encounter various wild and domestic animals such as donkeys, antelopes, zebras, buffalos and even elephants. Most Area Officers have had to deal with rather challenging situations on rural roads during their daily commute.
 

Therefore, SOLARKIOSK Kenya has taken the step forward to ensure their safety on the road through a workshop dedicated to safe driving practices. The workshop was facilitated by Kibo, a mobility company based in Nairobi that originated from the acknowledgement of the importance of having access to safe and reliable mobility for everyone.
 

“The workshop was incredibly valuable for all of us,” said Mary Katana, Solar Kiosk Kenya Regional Manager. “We started by sharing some stories of the Area Officer’s biking experiences and ended realising how critical the training was to enabling our business to thrive in some of the hardest to reach places in rural Kenya.”
 

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Welcome Sören to Solarkiosk!

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Sören has recently joined the Business Innovations Team and has been actively supporting us in emerging markets in his work on Business Incubation and Acceleration Programs worldwide. Sören has a great background in business and sustainability management and cannot get enough of transformation power of entrepreneurship. He recently came to Germany’s vibrant capital after being six years abroad to continue his search on great inspiration.
 
We are happy to have you here Sören.
 
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SOLARKIOSK, ERGO and Munich Re inaugurate a new E-HUBB in Migori county

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Single-storey house lining a red dirt road, trees dotted between the buildings, children and goats playing everywhere: This is Wath Onger, the location of one of five E-HUBBs implemented by SOLARKIOSK in Migori county in Kenya with the generous support of Munich Re and ERGO.
 

On 5 December 2017, the local community along with SOLARKIOSK representatives from Kenya and Germany celebrated the inauguration of the E-HUBB in Wath Onger.
 

The region, located in the western part of the country on Lake Victoria, is dominated by agriculture and the electricity network is poorly developed. The electricity produced by the E-HUBBs will allow locals to recharge their mobile phones, get access to quality solar products and consumer goods and even access the internet.
 

The people of Wath Onger are looking forward to the E-HUBB becoming the new center of their community, bringing internet, electricity and new business opportunities to the rural area.
 

Follow to the dedicated microsite to discover more details about the newly opened E-HUBB in Wath Onger and read the interview with Zainabu Akoth, its operator.
 

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Impact: Putting your metrics where our mouth is!

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There has been a lot of talk about impact in recent years, particularly in the impact investment crowd and within social enterprise circles, i.e. the investees. But on what basis can investors or businesses really claim to be impactful and when is this merely an assumption and/or an aspiration?

 

At SOLARKIOSK, we feel that the concept of impact needs to be clearly defined, rigorously backed up by data, and certainly not confused with or mistaken for terms like output or outcomes.

 

This is why we have built a small but dedicated internal task force to try and tackle some of the grey zones surrounding impact and find answers to these questions that are so pertinent to SOLARKIOSK’s mission. Not only do we want to translate exactly what impact (as well as output and outcome) means in the context of our work, but we also want to tie our socio-economic, environmental, and governance goals to measurable indicators that we can track and improve on over time.

 

As part of this exciting and quite frankly, also challenging undertaking, Yasmin and Pia attended a conference in Berlin last week entitled Role of Impact Management in Financing Small and Growing Businesses in Developing and Emerging Markets, which was hosted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. One of the poignant questions being discussed was how impact investors and fund managers can devise credible and consistent reporting standards for their portfolios without overwhelming social enterprises, particularly those who have to measure and manage different impact (and financial) metrics for different investors.

 

Our take-away from the conference was that when it comes to impact, if you don’t measure it, it doesn’t count. As a company, we have impact in our DNA and the assumption that our work is improving the lives of hundreds (if not thousands) of people living in remote communities across Sub-Saharan Africa is a huge motivation and reason for each of us to come to work each day! However, in order to back up this claim and prove that our work as a social enterprise is holistically impactful, we need to step up to the plate and become forerunners in putting our metrics where our mouth is.
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A royal E-HUBB visit in Ethiopia

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The SOLARKIOSK team in Ethiopia recently welcomed the Crown Prince of Norway Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, along with delegates of several Norwegian renewable energy companies in an E-HUBB in Butajira cluster.

Representatives of Innovation Norway who organized the visit have mentioned that SOLARKIOSK’s unique business model and success story made it a perfect example to share with the renewable energy sector and potential Investors.

The delegates were impressed by the impact that SOLARKIOSK’s last mile distribution network offers to Bottom of the Pyramid communities.

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Shared knowledge for a shared vision

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One of the great advantages of SOLARKIOSK’s Pan-African setup, which spans no less than 6 countries, is that our teams can consistently learn more from one another’s trials and tribulations. This means that solutions that have been tried and tested in Tanzania for example, can serve as a blueprint for Kenya, and vice versa. We believe that this is the most exciting and interactive way to solve common challenges that affect our unique business model across Sub-Saharan Africa.

This collaborative approach inspired us to recently conduct a workshop at our offices in Nairobi, Kenya. We had colleagues from different countries and departments share their ideas and discuss ways in which we could streamline some of the most important policies and procedures within the business. The devil is always in the detail, and some of our teams have very successfully tackled the many little “devils” of our daily operations, particularly in supply chain management, which is so critical in providing reliable last mile distribution to the communities we want to impact.

This is just the beginning in a series of workshops that we hope will nurture not only the sharing of best-practice solutions across teams and countries but also help build strong relationships between SOLARKIOSK teams within Africa and Germany.

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