The Solar Cow project by Yolkstation is an inspiration for many entrepreneurial ideas!
Power is in short supply across many rural areas in the world and this brings with it many problems and opportunities
- many adults depend on their mobile phones to be notified of work and job opportunities
- charging the mobile phone often requires walking many miles to the nearest power source which either means the adult is unable to work during the round trip OR a child is sent on an errand to get the phone charged
- this results in many children missing school, to say nothing of the danger and stress of long round trips, often of 4 – 6 hours
- charging the phone also costs money and can be relatively expensive
The Solar Cow project installs a solar charging station at schools across Africa. Each school-going child is provided with one power bank which they plug in and charge while they attend school during the day. The power banks look like milk bottles and when plugged in they look like the udder of a cow – and the company made the frame for the solar charging panels in the shape of a cow – which is why the name is Solar Cow!
The children take the power bank home each day and the adults can charge their mobile phones and also use the power bank for light – this also solves a BIG problem with kerosene lamps that cause many fires and also cost money to burn.
As a result, the Solar Cows:-
- save time wasted to go charge their mobile phone
- save money spent on charging the phone
- save money on lighting
- encourage adults to send children to school
This has a huge financial and social benefit to the entire community!
BUT that’s not all – I was told a story of a young entrepreneur in Africa that had a similar idea. He identified the problem of adults needing their phones charged and wasting much time doing so. He saved up and bought a cheap portable solar charging panel and started to offer the service to charge mobile phones – he could charge slightly more than the other places that were many hours walk away as he was closer so it saved time. He saved more money and bought even bigger and better solar charging panels – he also bought power banks so that he could charge them up and rent them to people. His “charging station” became a community hub – many people wanted to sit and wait for their phone to charge, so a vendor started selling food and beverages – suddenly many people started to earn money and business grew – all because of “free” power from the sun.
Lessons to learn:-
- Identify a problem that costs people time and / or money
- Find a solution to solve the problem
- Start small and grow
What problems are in your community that you can solve?