SOLARKIOSK selected as a Semifinalist of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge

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We are delighted to share the exciting news of the day: SOLARKIOSK has been selected as a Semifinalist of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

SOLARKIOSK, along with the other sixteen Semifinalists, has undergone rigorous evaluation for adherence to the Fuller Challenge criteria among more than 460 entries over a period of 4 months by members of the Challenge Review Committee, which includes more than a dozen long-standing reviewers as well as external advisors and experts.

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge program has been highlighting and celebrating exceptional examples of “whole systems” design across many sectors for the past 10 years. Launched in 2007, the program has been widely regarded as “socially-responsible design’s highest award” (first recognized by Metropolis Magazine in 2010).

The 2017 Fuller Challenge Semifinalists are exemplars of innovative, multi-pronged approaches to addressing critical problems in agriculture, architecture, climate change, community planning, education, ecology, economic development, energy, human health, materials, sanitation, environmental and social justice, and other domains.

You can read more about the Buckminster Fuller Challenge program here.


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SOLARKIOSK joins Business Call to Action

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SOLARKIOSK’s commitment to increase access to renewable energy, related products and new jobs in sub-Saharan Africa has enabled the company to join Business Call to Action (BCtA) – a unique multilateral alliance hosted by the United Nations Development Programme.

Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than USD 8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors.

SOLARKIOSK has joined BCtA by pledging to establish 940 E-HUBBs across Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, providing sustainable energy products and consumer goods to local communities and creating at least 2,000 new jobs within the inclusive E-HUBB network.

“With its state-of-the-art design and inclusive operating model, SOLARKIOSK is bringing green and solar products and services to Africa’s underserved communities”, stated BCtA Programme Manager Paula Pelaez. “By delivering energy and labour-saving technologies to the last mile, the company is working towards the Sustainable Development Goals of access to sustainable energy for all, gender equality and more.”

You can read more about SOLARKIOSK’s BCtA membership here.


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SOLARKIOSK at “Renewable Energy and Quality of Life” conference in Astana

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Aiding underserved populations through access to energy and last mile distribution is a mission that SOLARKIOSK has tirelessly been working on for the past 6 years.

SOLARKIOSK’s Director of Strategic Business Development Thomas Rieger will share more insights about this journey in Astana, Kasachstan over August 14-15th, where Thomas will represent SOLARKIOSK as a speaker in the “Renewable Energy and Quality of Life” – World EXPO Future Energy Forum UNITAR conference.

Future Energy Forum sets the stage for international participation and cooperation to discuss the defining issue of our time: Energy, and is one of the central events of Astana EXPO-2017.


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The great team behind SOLARKIOSK

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We cherish the team of great individuals whose professionalism and drive make SOLARKIOSK what it is today. The operators of our E-HUBBs deserve a very special mention though – as they are the face of SOLARKIOSK in our daily operations, bringing solar products and sustainable consumer goods to underserved populations across Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Meet Faith, who operates a SOLARKIOSK E-HUBB at Kasikeu in Makueni county, Kenya. Her dedication and hard work enable the kiosk to sell a variety of solar products monthly – from small solar torches to solar home systems. This means that every month, more families across Makueni get access to clean, sustainable energy and better productivity, health and safety.

On the images below you can see Faith and the E-HUBB at Kasikeu during busy daily operations.


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The original founders of SOLARKIOSK meet in Masai Maara

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When in the year 2009 SOLARKIOSK was still an abstract concept, visible only in the imagination of the company’s CEO Andreas Spieß, he happened to meet GRAFT architects Wolfram Putz, Thomas Willemeit and Lars Krückeberg ( in a hotel in Addis Abeba and told them about his idea.

At a stage where nobody else would understand or support him, GRAFT got it immediately and bought into Andreas’ vision of energy-connectivity last mile distribution and developing rural off-grid communities. GRAFT designed the E-HUBB according to complex and comprehensive requirements such as modularity, multifunctionality, kit-of-parts design, security, longevity, etc. The rest is history.

In July 2017, GRAFT and Andreas met in the Masai Maara to visit some of their “oldest” E-HUBBs which were implemented in 2012 and 2013. These units are still going strong and are in high demand throughout the Maara, evolving into solar market centers which GRAFT had anticipated from the get-go. In the pictures you can see Lars, Thomas, Wolfram and Andreas in front of one of their pioneer E-HUBBs and at a Masai community market.

Masai Maara 2

Masai Maara 1

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SOLARKIOSK’s E-HUBB Provides Energy to Local Entrepreneurs.

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SOLARKIOSK’s Connected Solar Market Center (CSMC) is one of the most powerful off-grid concepts currently being developed. Each CSMC hosts multiple independent businesses accessing energy from the central E-HUBB, while enjoying space, infrastructure and support – all provided by SOLARKIOSK.

The first CSMCs were implemented in Rwanda in late 2016. The quick success of the model, exemplified by the increase in local economic activity, foot traffic to the E-HUBB and social benefits for the community, encouraged SOLARKIOSK to quickly scale this concept in a variety of designs. Today, the company runs 15 CSMC in its three core countries: Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

The businesses currently powered by the CSMCs are: restaurant, viewing hall, barbershop and a billars table. All business further benefit from co-location and a safe, lighted area where business hours can be extended into the evening. SOLARKIOSK is currently evaluating adding other commercial and/or productive activities, from farming services such as food cooling or drying, to more complex integration with health, education and financial service providers.


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SOLARKIOSK Kenya featured on a national “Young Entrepreneur” program

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SOLARKIOSK’s innovative business model was recently covered in the “Young Entrepreneur” broadcast on the national Kenyan TV channel, Biashara TV.

The station aired the new episode reporting SOLARKIOSK’s impact in rural communities on the 14th of June. Managing Director, William Mukaria, was interviewed in his office and highlighted the unparalleled market approach of SOLARKIOSK – a supplier-independent retail network of quality solar lamps, solar home systems and clean cooking stoves.

The entire episode can be viewed on Youtube.

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SOLARKIOSK provides credit facilities to over 1,000 solar clients in Rwanda.

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SOLARKIOSK began its micro-lease pilot program in Rwanda in 2016. The mission is to finance supplier-independent quality solar products to private consumers, without further engagement of banks or other lending facilities. Usually PAYGO companies offer finance to their own branded products, whereas SOLARKIOSK is supplier agnostic and offers a range of different quality suppliers.

The pilot was conducted by a team of 4 local finance managers and one senior finance manager, who developed and implemented the inclusive finance facility from scratch including all products, finance conditions and customer base, with a strong focus on small holder farmers in Rwanda via the country’s farming cooperatives.

SOLARKIOSK offers a vast product range, starting from small lamps to larger home systems and even solar powered TVs through its micro-lease program. Yasmin Olteanu, the Microfinance Manager leading the team, comments: “Farmers perceive the broad and supplier-independent range of high-quality solar products they can access with micro-lease as very attractive. This way, they can choose from many available products and suppliers what fits best to their situation and wallet! In addition, they don’t have to worry about accessibility of maintenance or repairs, since the E-HUBB is just around the corner”.

The micro-lease team

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SOLARKIOSK is proud to announce Ketan Patel has joined the company as the new Director of Retail.

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Zimbabwean-born Ketan Patel is the new Director of Retail of SOLARKIOSK. Ketan joins the company following a 25-year successful track record of establishing, growing and managing businesses in challenging operational environments, dating back to the first experience he gained behind the counters of his father’s retail stores in Harare.

Passionate about Africa and entrepreneurship, Ketan has worked on over 15 concepts and 5,000 combined units, developing a deep global retail experience in chain and franchised companies. During his rich international experience, Ketan was a key executive at both private and public entities in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Middle East and United States, developing and executing marketing strategies for multinational brands with budgets above $10 million.

Among his achievements, Ketan lead the introduction of new product lines for a multi-million dollar investment in a bakery chain and founded a social entrerprise for urban vendors in Harare. Imhanya employs mobile cloud technology and recycled containers to provide income to over 300 families per unit.

In his new role, Ketan will continue spending the bulk of his time in Africa to support the expansion of SOLARKIOSK’s retail and distribution channels, while his wife and 6-year old son will relocate to Berlin. The cosmopolitan family enjoys frequent travelling to Asia and is looking forward to discovering new places and foods in Berlin.


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SOLARKIOSK is featured at the European Development Days

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SOLARKIOSK took part at the European Development Days held in Brussels, Belgium on the 7th and 8th June.

The event, organized by the European Commission, brings development actors together to share ideas and experiences, inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions for the world’s most pressing challenges. In particular, EDD 2017 emphasized private sector engagement as a partner in economic development, to strengthen inclusive growth and jobs creation for women and youth.

Andreas Spieß, CEO at SOLARKIOSK, spoke at the debate Bridging the Digital Divide in Africa. “Energy enables connectivity, which enables content. Content comes with a responsibility and therefore SOLARKIOSK focuses on working with partners who bring content to enable health, education, communication, financial inclusion, agri-solutions and more for our rural customers in off-grid areas worldwide” commented Andreas.

SOLARKIOSK’s work was also featured at the stand of the Inclusive Business Action Network, a network for development actors providing insights, analytics and best practices to its members. During the event, IBAN promoted the understanding of partnerships through the Partnership Challenge, a game inviting visitors to put themselves in the role of impactful businesses to better assess the value of partners at all stages of the value chain and in relation to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.


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