Connected Solar Market Centers empower local entrepreneurship

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The images below show the 23-year-old Ally Ramadhan Ndele, who recently has opened a barbershop within SOLARKIOSK’s Connected Solar Market Center in Kibaha, Tanzania, about 80 kilometers out of Dar es Salaam. Ally moved to Kibaha from an urban area called Mlandizi, where he was employed as a barber after completing his education. He was not earning much and was enthusiastic about the opportunity to run his own business in a SOLARKIOSK CSMC in the countryside.

Ally has said he believes that customers like his shop because of his style and the cool music played in the area; he was happy to share that the number of customers he has had is great, especially given the fact that he has been in the village for less than a month. He does not think much about a town life anymore, as he finds himself adjusting very well in the area. “I can find almost everything here, people are friendly and some commodities are cheaper, moreover in terms if commodities I get almost everything I want from the E-HUBB. This is what I’ve always been dreaming of, running my own business and making my own money”- he noted.

As the Connected Solar Market Center network grows, SOLARKIOSK is looking for more ways to empower many more young entrepreneurs like Ally to follow their dreams.

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SOLARKIOSK performs market demand study in Rwanda

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SOLARKIOSK is driven by satisfying the needs of our customers. This is why a market demand study based on the human-centered design approach is currently being carried out, with the first round just finalized last week in Rwanda.

Human-centered design is a participative action research approach which keeps our clients’ lives and desires at its core. This approach helps us develop solutions which are really rooted in our clients’ needs, and by this bring real added value to the communities we work in.

We believe that it is our clients and their families who know best which products and services can really make a difference in their lives. With our extensive E-HUBB network, we are ready to provide the right solutions to these needs – be it farming tools, school supplies or solar-powered football screenings.

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SOLARKIOSK organises operator training sessions in Kenya

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An important objective for SOLARKIOSK is to ensure that all E-HUBB operators are educated about solar products, as well as sales and marketing strategies.

We are continuously working on tools and materials to support them and enable successful E-HUBB operations.

Earlier this week, 11 E-HUBB operators from Samburu region in Kenya underwent a full day refresher training held in two sessions in Maralal and Isiolo towns, as seen on the images below.



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SOLARKIOSK helps improve livelihood in pastoral communities

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What if one solar product was your indoor lighting, security lighting to fend off wild animals and thus protecting your livestock livelihood, allowing your children to read, helping you fetch water and contributing to so many other aspects of your life?

This is the reality for many pastoralist communities in Kenya, who due to their geographical location, are difficult to reach by grid electricity.

These livestock-raising communities source from a number of tribes in Kenya. Their villages form a part of the catchment areas around SOLARKIOSK’s E-HUBBs, and we are proud to support them to access life-changing products at the last mile to address many of the challenges they face as a result of a lack of access to electricity.

In the area surrounding Oldonyiro, where the image below was taken, many of them hail from the Samburu tribe. These communities reside in communes known as ‘bomas’, a fenced area where house structures called ‘manyattas’ are the homesteads with a separate fenced area for livestock in the form of goats and cattle.

“Out at our home (boma), we do not have electricity. This solar panel is our electricity, it does everything,” notes one of the E-HUBB customers seen on the image.

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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.

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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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