BusinessDay

Meet Chiemela Anosike, entrepreneur supporting rural electrification

Chiemela Anosike is the founder of Solaris Green Tech Hub – a renewable energy company providing solar power charging booths and micro-power solutions to rural communities across Nigeria.

To help tackle energy poverty in Africa’s biggest economy and drive green jobs and clean energy, Chiemela was inspired to launch Solaris.

The young entrepreneur used her personal funds to kick-start Solaris and has built the company before seeking investors’ funds.

Since starting, the start-up has grown consistently and now sources its batteries, charge controllers and other solar equipment locally and abroad.

“I believe that energy is paramount to any country’s development. If you want to turn Nigeria into a manufacturing country, to reduce importation, start paying attention to infant renewable energy industries,” she says.

“Energy is crucial for the economic development of a society, as it cuts across all sectors,” she adds.

The young entrepreneur says she was also inspired by a 2019 United States African Development Foundation (USADF) report that puts Nigeria’s energy poverty opportunity at $1.2 trillion.

“From our research, we discovered that the energy needs of most Nigerians at the bottom of the pyramid are quite basic,” she says.

“Their energy needs are limited to direct current (DC) fans, POS machines, mobile phones, torch, power banks and lighting their homes, especially at night.”

“In response to the research, we designed and deployed the Solaris power charging booth in communities to serve as a power station,” Chiemela says.

She notes that community members come to the booth to charge their mobile devices and to rent a Solaris power kit for their homes.

“These Solaris power kits are made up of power packs and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs to light up their homes and charge their mobile devices,” Chiemela says.

Solaris has received recognition and awards such as the microgrid academia award and talent of the year.

“We are finalists for the All On, USADF $100,000 energy challenge grant, and the Nigeria Climate Innovation Centre (NCIC) $10,000 energy challenge award,” she says.

Chiemela says FX is a huge barrier, as over 90 percent of solar components are imported from Nigeria

“They are ups and downs in business, therefore the exchange rate is high, this does not stop the business from running,” she says.

“You just have to learn some lessons. Instead of buying things in bits, we import in a substantial quantity when the exchange rate is quite favorable,” Chiemela says.

Read also: NIPEM calls for youth empowerment via technical, entrepreneurship development

Chiemela says it has challenging and interesting as a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated field.

“Challenging in the sense that you do not possess too much industry power because if you are knowledgeable in what you are doing, it does not pose so much of a threat,” she says.

“Combining my marriage and handling the business has been quite challenging. However, one has to strike a balance,” Chiemela says.

Solaris has five full-time employees and two part-time employees, which are booth agents.

On the business future plans, she says the business plans to build 50 booths and deploy them to communities by 2023.

However, on its long-term goals, she notes that Solaris plans to produce up to 100 to 200 power kits and build as many as 300 to 1000 power booths in different communities in Nigeria and abroad.

“For Solaris, we want to expand into different communities in Nigeria, as we are currently in Abba; Abia state,” she says.

On her advice to other entrepreneurs, she says, “business is hard, especially in Nigeria. Nothing in life is easy.”

“Sit down, count your cost and make sure you have the stamina and what it takes to engage in such business,” she advises.

“Before you venture into something, consult people in that field on the right steps to take.”

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