Mekila Ngwambe - Sunsave Solutions
Sunsave Solutions - aiming to provide low-income households with electricity. Hear from Mekila in our 2023 Startup Summer Accelerator.
Startup name: Sunsave Solutions
Founder: Mekila Ngwambe
School: Graduate from the School of Social and Political Sciences
Three words to describe your entrepreneurial journey: Scary. Exciting. Fulfilling.
How did you come up with the idea?
I was born and raised in a small village in the Northwest region of Cameroon. My village was not covered by the national grid, so we relied on kerosene lamps for light. We studied using kerosene lamps or candles, which came with numerous hazards. I knew classmates who accidently caused fires because they fell asleep while studying by candlelight. Lack of electricity also affected our education. In the school I attended, we had computer studies as a subject, but we never had a computer laboratory because our school did not have electricity. I remember in our computer studies examination; we were asked to draw a computer and name its parts. I founded Sunsave Solutions to respond to these challenges and to democratise access to electricity.
What is the idea?
The entrepreneurial idea behind the company is to unlock potential low-income rural households through distributed and affordable solutions. Our goal is to enable low-income rural households to acquire clean solar electricity with the same money they would otherwise use on kerosene and candles. We us a PAYGo plan that allows flexible payment in monthly instalments, equivalent to the monthly cost of kerosene.
What real-world challenge do you want to address?
The real-world challenge we are addressing at Sunsave Solutions is access to electricity.
Access to reliable electricity affects more than a billion people globally. The situation is even more acute in Sub-Saharan Africa where more than 500 million people have no access to electricity whatsoever. We are also addressing energy transition to environmentally friendly sources such as solar energy. Most importantly, we are making sure this transition is just, fair and tackles inequality by putting those in energy poverty, female-led and low-income rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa at the centre of our project.
What motivates you as an entrepreneur?
What motivates me daily is the impact this venture will have on rural communities. As someone who was born and raised in a rural community without electricity, and who had to trek sometimes for several kilometres to a nearby village just to charge my phone, I have firsthand understanding of the transformative impact that access to electricity will have on unelectrified villages. I grew up in a village using kerosene lamps to study because of a lack of electricity. I want the next generation to use much safer and cleaner solar lighting to study. I grew up drawing computers – because of a lack of electricity, I want the children in my village to grow up using them. That’s what motivates me.
What role has Edinburgh Innovations played in your entrepreneurial journey?
Edinburgh Innovations has been very instrumental in my entrepreneurial journey. Firstly, as an international student from Cameroon, Edinburgh Innovations has been crucial in helping me secure a startup visa, which has allowed me to build Sunsave Solutions from the UK. Secondly, Sunsave Solutions now has a dedicated business adviser, as a first-time founder this is incredibly helpful. Finally, the Startup Summer Accelerator and Inspire Launch Grow Awards have provided intensive guidance, support and structure.
We are currently gathering and collating feedback from the performance of our prototype in the field (Cameroon). In the next few months, we’ll be incorporating some of these learnings in our product design, production and distribution. We intend to continue strategic trialling to get more feedback and perfect our product. We are also looking to setup a board and redesign our website. Finally, as schools resume in September, we’ll launch a campaign called Light for Education. We will be donating solar kits to 3-5 qualified schools in rural areas to power their science or computer labs. Keep an eye out for this!
Sunsave Solutions now has a dedicated business adviser, as a first-time founder this is incredibly helpful.
Mekila is taking part in the Edinburgh Earth Initiative sponsored Startup Summer Accelerator 2023.