Additional Solar Kiosks Highlights Africa Development Promises’ Success

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Posted On: 01.01.2019

Africa Development Promise (ADP) is an ISV entrepreneur operating in Uganda and Rwanda. ADP’s entry point for development is agriculture, typically via women’s cooperatives, and it maintains a focus on women’s empowerment. Working in an off-the-grid area in Uganda’s Wakiso District, ADP recognized an opportunity to provide power-based services. To capitalize on it, ADP teamed with ISV to develop solar energy retail kiosks as the cornerstone of ISV’s pillars of development, using energy to enable entrepreneurial-driven economic development and education.

Powered from a solar micro-grid, a kiosk becomes the retail home of power-based services such as battery charging, home lighting system sales and rentals, and rental of battery-powered tools (e.g., solar dryers, pumps). With power available for computers, the kiosk also serves as a base for training and instruction – ISV’s education pillar. Computer training at the kiosk teaches Microsoft Excel as the basis to track and run a good portion of the cooperatives’ business, Microsoft Word, and use of the Internet. The kiosk also prove to be a community gathering point, especially with the sale of cold drinks and small grocery items and sundries.

Aligned with the ISV pillar of entrepreneurial-driven development, ADP envisioned the kiosk operating under a franchise arrangement. Under this approach, ADP would retain ownership of the physical infrastructure, but a business entity would assume operational responsibility.

The first solar kiosk was opened in the Wakiso District village of Kifumbiro in March 2018 and it has since met expectations as a business hub and training center. Photos of this kiosk are below.

ADP Solar Kiosk community center in Kifumbiro.
View from inside the solar store.

Innovation Kicks In

With the experience of the Kifumbiro solar kiosk, ADP considered what innovations could be undertaken for the next solar kiosks. One idea was the reconception of kiosk itself. Instead of building a structure from the ground up, ADP borrowed on the idea of using a shipping container as the building core. By using what was essentially a prefabricated building shell, ADP was able to reduce the cost of constructing a kiosk by some 60%. Additionally, if the kiosk proved sufficiently successful that it made economic sense to build a larger, more permanent structure, the container-based kiosk could be moved to another location. Therefore, the container-based kiosk proved to offer a lower cost and lower risk market point of entry.
A container-based kiosk is shown below. You will note that a rainwater catchment system is in place. Solar panels atop the flat portion of the roof of each kiosk (not visible in the picture) generate approximately 2 KWp. This amount is sufficient to power at least 4 computers, a multi-function printer, a TV, refrigerator, lighting and security, provide charging, and, potentially, power Internet access. In other words – enough power to run the business.

An ADP container-based solar kiosk.
A rainwater catchment system is visible.

In January 2019, to much local excitement, ADP opened the container-based solar kiosk in the Wakiso District village of Kiwenda and a store front kiosk in the village of Kabubbu.

Business Innovation

ADP’s Innovative thinking and problem solving has also been applied in its business and operating environment. For example, recognizing that the computers and training area in the Kifumbiro solar kiosk were not in full time use, ADP sought to increase their utilization. Creating a new revenue stream, ADP reached agreement with local schools to use ADP’s resources for the schools’ own computer training programs.
In another example, ADP had thought that villagers would better benefit if they purchased solar-powered products like lighting, instead of renting them. Recognizing that the down-payment required for purchase was proving to be a barrier, ADP sought the assistance of village saving associations. Under terms of agreements between the ADP and the associations, the latter to would provide special loan terms to their members for down payments toward purchase of lighting products. Customers would then make recurring payments to the ADP franchisee to pay off the balance. In another example of innovation, ADP has incorporated Angaza Design Inc.’s “pay-as-you-go” technology into its products to enable easy and efficient recurring payment methods and, if needed, collection enforcement.

Opening Day of ADP’s container-based solar kiosk in Kiwenda, Uganda.
Inside the Shop – Open for Business, Kiwenda, Uganda.

A Virtuous Cycle

The success of the Kifumbiro solar kiosk as a community hub for services and training is leading to another promising step. ADP is buying several sewing machines that will be used for sewing training, and then be rented in support of sewing businesses. The kiosk will be enlarged, making it even more a village and local focal point, and even more successful.
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Africa Development Promise is a 501(c)(3) corporation based in Denver, CO and operating in Rwanda and Uganda. For more information please visit its website and/or its overview video.

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