This is how we work
We are not concerned with one-off aid measures. Our intention is to set up a long-lasting, self-supporting power supply on the basis of solar energy. The principles behind our projects:
1. Listen - put solutions into practice - accompany
The main principle behind our work is to speak with the people in rural regions, find out on-site what their problems are, work out solutions with them and then put these solutions into practice. The most important requirement from our staff is therefore the ability to listen, to put solutions into practice and then to accompany the people as they develop further.
2. Development instead of projects
Those people who concern themselves with solar energy in developing countries usually do so on a project basis. These projects are limited, because they have a clearly defined end. However, rural development does not have an end. It is a continual process. This is the reason why thinking on a project-oriented basis does not suffice. On the contrary: It demands from businesses and organizations a procedure which is linked to the availability of projects and their invitations to tender. The result is a continual stop-and-go.
The great challenge in terms of rural electrification does not lie in the installation of the solar systems, but in ensuring that they work reliably in the long term. To achieve this it is essential to have a rural network of well-trained solar technicians who have the necessary supply of spare parts and can ensure professional after-sales service.
4. Training in solar technology and management
We train solar technicians in our own training centers in the subjects solar technology, customer care and management, both in theory and in practice. It is essential that the solar technicians receive comprehensive training in the potential and also the limitations of solar technology. Our training enables them also to open their own small solar business.
5. Affordable products with a long life
We only implement products which, from the point of view of quality and durability, are capable of functioning for a long period of time even in the adverse conditions of the Ethiopian countryside. The aim is not to be cheap, but to make good quality affordable. To this end we make use of our own microfinancing system which makes it possible for even the poorest of people to acquire high-standard solar products. Poor people can simply not afford cheap products.
6. We don't give solar products for free, but provide a finance option
The principle of our "Revolving Fund" for enduser financing of solar products is very simple: Whoever wants to take advantage of solar energy receives a solar system. The money which was previously spent on the monthly energy needs is now used to pay back the acquisition cost in instalments. Over a period of several years the money flows back into the Revolving Fund and is then available again to finance the next solar systems.
7. Local job creation
Solar technology has the advantage of being able to create jobs in many different areas: On the one hand there is the technology sector (production, installation, maintenance, after-sales service, training) and management (microfinancing, social management, logistics, sales, training).
On the other, solar technology creates, where it is already in existence, numerous solar-related possibilities for generating income. Charging mobile phones by means of solar energy is just one such example.
8. Local management and personnel
Local employees fill all management posts in our foundation in developing countries. Employees from other countries are welcome as advisors, supervisors, coaches or trainers, but only for a clearly defined and limited period of time.
9. Holistic approach
We recognize the complexity of each development and therefore we do not focus on one single aspect. For a permanent change, we bundle rather the diversity of tasks (training, financing, production, installation, customer service, etc.) in an overall strategy. This will ensure that not only isolated, individual projects are implemented, but an overall development is provided.
10. Social and financial sustainability
Neither purely profit-oriented, nor purely non-profit organizations financed by donations can guarantee complete sustainability. For-profit enterprises cannot ensure social sustainability and non-profit organizations cannot guarantee financial sustainability.
Consequently our approach is "hybrid", our network consists of non-profit and for-profit entities. The peculiarity: The profit-oriented enterprises are led by the non-profit foundation and not vice versa!