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We have developed a smart solar kiosk platform to distribute efficiently key services for low income people using a micro franchise model.

Photo of henri Nyakarundi
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

At ARED we believe that the antidote of poverty, is economic opportunity. However, most economic opportunities require a huge investment from the interested parties. We decided to develop a micro business solution that is affordable to anyone, that can generate good revenue for the person operating it at a low operating cost and we offer a support system so the person can maximize their revenue. Welcome to the SHIRIKI HUB platform. We developed a business in a box solar kiosk platform that allow efficient distribution of key services such as phone charges, mobile money, offline online connectivity, government services and more all under one platform. One of the biggest challenge low income people face, is the poor distribution infrastructure that exist in their areas. We also incorporated in micro franchise business model where we recruit, train and monitor women and people with disabilities to operate the kiosk for a revenue sharing structure. We focus on the most vulnerable. We operate in low income areas such as rural areas, semi urban areas but also refugee camps in Rwanda and Uganda. People want to work, they want to be productive, they just do not necessarily have the resources to do so. By Facilitating the entry point to micro business, we do not just bring economic empowerment to an individual, but we also impact the immediate families and communities that we serve.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our direct customer is our micro franchisees. we recruit women and people with disabilities, they have to be 25 years and above, no how to read and write, have to be interesting in starting a business. We recruit people for the communities where the kiosk will be deployed. It is important for ARED to empower the communities, and make sure the people from those communities benefit best with this economic opportunity. The micro franchisee customer is the one coming to get services on the kiosk. We serve around 30 customers per day per kiosk on different services. Last year in Rwanda, we serve 46000 unique customers, on 24 solar kiosks. We plan to have 600 solar kiosks by the end of 2019 in Rwanda alone. 55 of those customers are women, they range from 18 and above. We focus on implementing those kiosks in High traffic areas.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The smart solar kiosk is the only one stop shop platform in the market today. We combine phone charges, mobile money, government services and offline online connectivity solution. offline connectivity is extremely important for people that cannot afford to buy internet data plan, but still want to consume digital content. Companies pay us to distribute specific digital content such as health content, educational content in those areas. This functionality is extremely important especially in refugee camps, where people do not have connectivity. The whole system is portable and solar powered so there is no infrastructure to be build. To build a sustainable business in low income people, you have to offer multiple services because of the low margins, and because we build a platform we can add as many services as we want. We have been working on the field or the last 5 years, and spent 9 years developing the technology, we have learned so much and finally have a winning solution.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.
  • Majority Adoption: I have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Our goal at ARED is to build the largest network of distribution of key digital services for low income people in areas like rural, semi urban and refugee camps using our smart solar kiosk platform while incorporating an innovative business model to economically empower women and people with disabilities that live in those communities.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered social enterprise.
  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

When I came back to Rwanda, I was looking for a challenge. Most businesses I saw were focusing in middle class and upper class with luxury brand, but I saw a huge opportunity with low income people. Most people within those communities would also like quality services, good customer care and efficient service distribution but no-one was catering to those communities. So I decided to take on this challenge and show that you can make money and do good in the communities we serve.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

In the region of East, west and southern Africa, one of the biggest challenge those countries are facing is the unemployment among the youth and the income disparities due to lack of an inclusive economy. Prosperity and Peace goes hand in hand. 60% of the population is below the age of 25, yet 35% of those youth in east Africa are unemployed or under unemployed. Most of the youth work in the informal sector, with no basic training or support system. Finally, we see huge migration of young men and women in Africa trying to reach Europe looking for opportunities which has create huge humanitarian challenges and the growth of human trafficking. All of this, we believe it is caused because government are not creating more inclusive approach to economic opportunities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We have developed a lot of partnership along the way. In Rwanda for example we work a lot with local government that help us share the opportunity to the communities, but also facilitate our implementation of the kiosk on the ground. We working with world vision to help us recruit, train and monitor some of the kiosk in the areas they served. We also worked with the redcross to operate in refugee camps. They facilitate our implementation in those camps. In Uganda, we are in negotiation with UNHCR to operate in the biggest refugee settlement in BID BIDI north of Uganda, we are partnership with world vision and Mercy corp to assist us in recruiting, training and monitoring women refugees to operate the kiosk. Our vision is to share the value chain with organization that are already on the ground and looking to accomplish a similar goal.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

We have an employment rate of 35% in the communities we serves. We usually implement in Rwanda 20 to 30 kiosks per district and there is 30 district in Rwanda. We work with local government and cooperatives of those communities to recruit the micro franchisees. Every time we have a call, we get around 300 to 400 applicants per district interested in working with us. People are indeed eager to work and more micro businesses solutions are needed to serve those communities

Geographic Focus

We are focusing in Eastern, Western and southern part of Africa.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We need 24 month to implement the project and have it running, It take 8 month to order, ship and assemble the kiosk on the ground. We need another 6 month to recruit and train all the micro franchisees that will be operating the kiosk. Finally, we will need another 6 month to implement the kiosk on the ground and monitor the performance to see if any adjustment is needed.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • Yes

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

Yes, our technology has evolved dramatically since last time, we have incorporated additional features on the kiosk to better monitor it on the field, now we can do monitoring of our kiosk using an app. We have improved our training program to bring more value for our micro franchisees that require more support on the ground. We developed a maintenance program to better serve our micro franchisees on the technical side. We have incorporated an assessment test solution to better recruit candidate and make sure they have a business mindset. Finally, we have improved our offline, online connectivity system to bring more value to the customer and added a strong analytical system on the back-end of the software system so we can share some of our data with our partners.


Join the conversation:

Photo of United for Hope

Hello henri Nyakarundi and ARED team!
First of all let me tell you how interesting I found your POWERED FOR PROSPERITY idea. I love the way you integrate digital service offering with employment possibilities, women empowerment and integration of people with disabilities. At United for Hope we also work a lot with digital and IT service and we find one of the major challenges is in the training and spreading information around services that are available online and how to correctly access them and benefit from them. How do you guys manage the awareness & educational part of your work and what are your main challenges?
Check us out Smart Villages for Rural India: Building vibrant, sustainable rural communities to stem urbanisation if you like, and all the best with your great projects!

Photo of henri Nyakarundi

First is our.micro franchisee operating the kiosk they also in charge of educating the community since they make money on all the services offered in the kiosk. Second we offer incentive on a lot of the content we provide they get free airtime or internet access we also go entertainment content to make it interactive. We have game. It is.important to mention that our intranet platform is free for.the users. We also build a communication system within the network for them to communicate for free with someone within the community I hope that answer your question

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