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SHIRIKI HUB business in a box Solution to bring last mile connectivity Solutions.

ARED developed a business in a box solar kiosk to empower vulnerable people using a micro franchise business model.

Photo of henri Nyakarundi

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Explain your project idea in two sentences.

ARED has developed a turnkey green business in a box solution to empower vulnerable people using a micro franchisee business platform to fight poverty at the base of the pyramid.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

African renewable energy distributor. We are a business in a box solution for people at the BOP.

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

ARED is not a new organization, we have been on the ground now for 4 years. We have already created 30 micro entrepreneurs on the ground in Rwanda and we have pivoted our business three times already to improve on our hardware but also business model.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

The main problem we want to fix is the unemployment challenge that exist in Africa especially among the youth & women at the base of the pyramid. Unemployment among the youth is the number cause of social unrest and even crime that exist on the continent of Africa.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

We have almost finished developing the next generation solar kiosk & we are improving on our software platform that will allow us to offer more services using a mobile application that will increase the micro franchisees/micro entrepreneurs’ revenue and make our solution even more sustainable. We plan to add in the next 3 years 500 solar kiosks in Rwanda and 1000 in Uganda which will create 1500 micro entrepreneurs in those 2 countries while we franchising our model in other countries.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

Erick Yong, Business strategy expert of our expansion plan. Thomas Festerling is CFO Jonas Tubemaso, Technical Maintenance Nasser Kanesa Chief Marketing and Business Development Manager in Rwanda Henri Nyakarundi, CEO Oliver Klein, CTO Jeremiah Lwebuga business development for Uganda

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Business Development/Partnerships

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Better understand my user or community

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

We measure on how many micro entrepreneurs we create, we also measure the amount of income they generate and compare it to the country income per capita, we also measure the number of customers our micro entrepreneurs serve on a daily basis. Finally, we measure the impact our kiosk has on the end users from the services we offer, the usage of the wifi digital access and what type of digital content people consume.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

it did not change since we already tested and improve on our model for the last 4 years and we still improving our platform and business model. We already build a feedback platform on an mobile application that our micro entrepreneur uses on a daily basis to resell electronic vouchers to the end users.

(Optional) What are some of your still unanswered questions or concerns about this idea?

Some of the ideas we need to test is the viability of bringing affordable access to internet and localize digital content to people in rural and semi urban areas and what type of content would users want to have and consume finally, what type of engagement tool we need to build to improve the engagement of the users on our WIFI network.

An interview we did with Cnn explaining our impact of our technology and business model. 


Explain your idea

ARED is a hard-tech as a service company (HAAS). We developed a business in a box solar kiosk, app and software platform that can empower mostly women and people with disability using a micro franchise business model. We offer key services on the kiosk such as internet WIFI, intranet solution for offline users and charging phone and with our app we offer additional services such as airtime, mobile money, prepaid electricity, tax payment to create a one stop shop center for the end user. We sale a business in a box solar kiosk combine with our apps to fight the unemployment issue in Africa using a micro franchise business model. Our business in a box is low cost, the individual pay on average a one time fee 30$ to buy the micro franchise business and we lease the kiosk for free. We offer a 3 day training program for the micro franchisee to maximize income on the kiosk. Our micro franchisee earn a commission on all the sales, and keep 100% of the revenue collected from charging phone. One of the biggest challenge in Africa that does cause social unrest is the unemployment among the youth which is around 30% in East Africa. One of the challenges of having a micro business in rural or semi urban areas is the lack support, knowledge and access to energy, unfortunately the grid is not accessible everywhere on the continent but we answer to all those issues. I believe solar technology is the best approach to bring green business solutions to the poor/unemployed and give them an opportunity of generating an income to combat extreme poverty. In 2015, we had the opportunity to be partnered with the Red Cross International to implement solar kiosks in one of the refugee camps in Rwanda. Since then, we have taken the direct initiative to have kiosks in all the camps and hire refugees to run and operate them and thus generating income for themselves from the business. We learned a lot through this initiative, and the need for that solution in those camps. We believe that our new model will have even a better impact. Also, one of the chronic challenges in those camps is finding sustainable income generating solutions for refugees. We have seen that most NGOs develop immediate aid solutions but no longer term solutions. Our goal is to bring a long-term alternative to the 60 Million refugees that are spread worldwide. Environmental impact: Our technology uses solar energy and we have developed a recycling program to dispose of each kiosk after its life cycle. Social impact: We provide business and technological training to ensure the success of our franchisees. Technological impact: We have also develop an intranet platform within the kiosk that will allow anyone to access digital contents at no cost to the user. Economic impact: Our franchisees average between $100 to $150 net revenue per month, which is twice the per capita income in Rwanda. The micro-franchisees benefit from having minimal overhead since the kiosks are 100% powered by solar.

Who Benefits?

Our micro franchise program is design to benefit unemployed people, vulnerable groups such as women and people with disabilities. Entrepreneurship has become one of the best solution to fight poverty and unemployment that exist on the continent of Africa. The challenge with entrepreneurship, is the process and most people fail in entrepreneurship because they take on this process alone. ARED turnkey green business solution come full ready to be operational from day one. The micro franchisee pays a minimal fee of 30$ that include training, transport of the kiosk to the location, maintenance of the kiosk, technical training and financial support. ARED provide the solar kiosk, uniform so customer can easily identify the micro franchisees, easy access to credit to purchase the services needed to distribute on the kiosk. The job of the micro franchisee is to serve his or her customers, and all of them start making money from day one. ARED handles everything else.

How is your idea unique?

We have develop a real inclusive business at the base of the pyramid that allow anyone to plug in to our program, get a training and enjoy a strong revenue stream from the different services we offer at a extremely low franchisee fee that vary between 10 to 50$ per micro franchisees. any person with disability pays $10, women pay 20$ and the rest pay the equivalent of 50$. We are the only platform that offer all the services from this hub, which brings efficiency to the end users. Now they can purchase all their services without having to go long distance. Our franchisees average between $100 to $150 net revenue per month, which is twice the per capita income in Rwanda. The micro-franchisees benefit from having minimal overhead since the kiosks are 100% powered by solar panels and their mobility minimizes any need for infrastructure to be built. We have implemented so far 30 solar kiosk across Rwanda which translate to 30 micro entrepreneurs and we served around 40000 customers.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

We are a for profit social impact based in Rwanda with branches in Uganda. We started this journey in 2013. My Name is Henri Nyakarundi, I was born as a Rwandan refugee in Kenya and spent most of my youth in Burundi. In 1996 after several wars devastated the East African region, my sister and I had the opportunity to go to the USA to pursue our education. I graduated from computer science in 2003, and I was looking for a project to do back home to prepare my return. It all started in 2009 from a trip I took to Burundi, I was noticing amazing changes: People all over the place were carrying cell phones and smart phones but access to reliable power was a big issue. So, I came up with the concept of a solar kiosk to bring easy access for charging to the people. The first prototype was built in 2013, and we launched our first kiosk in march 2013 at Nyabugogo market place located in Kigali to test the model. and we spent years developing the right business model, testing the solution, developing the technology. Our inclusive business model require a very dynamic ecosystem to be put in place such as partnership with telecom companies, NGO that focus on fighting poverty, government and more. We have so far partner with MTN Rwanda, airtel Rwanda, Microsoft affordable access, village capital, SNV Rwanda and more. It took two-and-a-half years and a lot of support from different organizations such as Catapult Design, SEIF foundation, Microsoft, Autodesk Foundation, Village Capital, GreenTec Capital, ASME and Siemens Foundation to develop the next generation of kiosk and software that was going to allow us to bring digital content and services to the masses and any virtual top-up services from our app. Now we are about 80% done and we cannot wait to grow our social impact even further.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered social enterprise.

18 comments

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Photo of Anne Evans
Team

You mention, "we need to test is the viability of bringing affordable access to internet and localize digital content to people in rural and semi urban areas and what type of content would users want to have and consume finally, what type of engagement tool we need to build to improve the engagement of the users on our WIFI network."
How would your approach change if you could have affordable broadband access for your beneficiaries? Our approach can work anywhere in the world. Please check out our submission: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder/improve/appalachia-empowerment-collaborative

Photo of henri Nyakarundi
Team

Wireless access via satellite system is a very interesting approach, I know of another company in Senegal that is also using that approach. Our technology uses a content distribution network that is build in the router. Basically we have a hard drive on the router system that allow us to store content and distribute it without users having internet on their phones. Of course it is limited to specific content. The hardware for satellite connectivity would be too big for our kiosk and would not be able to be powered by our solar panel that I know of but the education content aspect is very interesting and could be integrated easily. I would love to talk about that. thanks

Photo of Anne Evans
Team

Henri,
If you are focusing on certain geographic areas our approach might make sense. Our unit includes a server and is solar powered and provides WIFI within approx 10 Km radius. (take a look at the photo of it on our page.) Possibly also provides mobile service if needed in the area through a roaming agreement with a provider. We include a server to enable downloads to be done at non -peak times and it can be accessed free by anyone in the radius who is a registered user.

Photo of henri Nyakarundi
Team

I just saw the photo, In very remote areas that would work indeed, roaming agreement with a provider would even be best so we can have access on our kiosk. Our kiosk provide micro businesses for people they make money on the kiosk charging phones, selling of prepaid services like airtime, etc.... Our solution is not just about connectivity but our agent generate revenue from offering connectivity in their communities using our solar kiosk that is why we have it on a kiosk structure to create income generating revenue for people that have no other opportunities.

Photo of Anne Evans
Team

Henri,
We are also using the approach of putting frequently accessed content on a local cache server. The whole point is to enable people to make a living but we think they might have more options if not just operating on roaming but with broadband. Thoughts on that? We'll let you know if it looks like we might be working in Rwanda. Feel free to reach out to me - aevans@ashoka.org

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