JUABAR Case Study

Sun Bar—How the Sun Creates Jobs

August 26, 2016

Imagine your life today. Every morning you wake up to the chimes and gentle buzz of the alarm on your cell phone. You use your mobile device to check the weather, the news, and to see if there is any traffic on your route to work. Your phone is your navigator, your entertainment, your camera, your planner, and your source for connectivity and communication. Now imagine your life with your cell phone, but with no electricity. Does your phone still serve you the same way?


In Tanzania, over half of the population owns a mobile phone, but only 14% of the population has access to electricity. Even in Dar es Salaam, the busiest, most electrified city in Tanzania, a single outlet and a few power strips becomes a hub for dozens of wire phone chargers, creating a knotted web of black cords used to power these mobile devices. Not only is this dangerous with so many exposed cords linking back to a single power strip, it is also incredibly energy inefficient.


Juabar, whose name is derived from the Swahili word, “jua” meaning “sun”, has a solution. Its product is a solar-powered kiosk that essentially runs as an electricity convenience store, charging up to 20 phones at once and creating business opportunities for its “Juapreneurs”. Juapreneurs lease these kiosks by a convenient pay-as-you-go method in exchange for solar-powered electricity. This creates a local and reliable place to charge cell phones in even the most rural areas. Juapreneurs even have the ability to make a commission by selling additional solar products to the community.


In this sense, Juabar is a product with a service. For the rural entrepreneur, a Juabar kiosk provides the opportunity for the operator to be elevated in the community as an important, trusted, and reliable clean-energy supplier. As a result, the Juapreneur gains a sustainable income to support his or her family. Juabar benefits the operator as well as the greater community.


Olivia Nava, CEO and resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, co-founded Juabar in 2012. Within one year, Juabar became an official establishment, raising over $60k, introducing its first kiosk in Tanzania, and holding four business trainings for its Juapreneurs. Nava’s vision to create “a place for communities to interact with, learn about, and create their own solar energy solutions” led her to Miller Center’s GSBI Online program in 2015, with the intention of gaining additional support for Juabar’s financial projections, as well as manufacturing and sales strategy advice. Since graduating from GSBI Online, Juabar has started working with Synovus Financial Corp (SNV) in Tanzania as a strategic partner for customer acquisition and training and was awarded the Seedstars “Tanzania winner” award.


In the long term, Nava plans to develop more kiosks and additional entrepreneurial opportunities for its beneficiaries. In addition to phone charging, for example, these kiosks will vend access to wi-fi, sell products to complement their service offerings, and provide additional income generating opportunities, like solar home products, airtime vouchers, and SIM cards. With its mission to develop profitable small business opportunities while meeting community energy needs, Juabar sits right at the intersection of women rising and climate resilience: a female CEO-led organization that creates clean energy solutions and provides people with the resources to power and benefit from their phones.



Organization: Juabar

Sectors: Energy

Established: 2013

Impact Area(s): East Africa (spef. Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda)

Staff Size: 6

GSBI Programs: GSBI Online

GSBI Year: 2016

GSBI Participant: Olivia Nava

GSBI Mentors: Melinda Griffith; Alina Adams


Key Awards:

2015: Seedstars “Tanzania winner”

2014: Fledge award

2014: Unreasonable East Africa

2013: SOCAP selected social entrepreneurs

2013: D-Prize

2012: Impact Award


2013: Raised $61,000 in convertible notes

2013: Sold first kiosks manufactured in Tanzania

2013: Held four business training workshops for Juapreneurs (solar operators) & interested parties

2015: Started working with SNV in Tanzania as a strategic partner for customer acquisition & training


Impact to Date:

-       6,600 Households with electricity access through mobile phone charging

-       Started 20 new electricity businesses in 20 villages in Morogoro and Pwani regions of Tanzania

-       Increased the income of Juapreneurs by 2-5 times the national per capita annual income

Jibu: A Water Solution

Galen visits a Jibu Franchisee, Photographer Jaime Gusching

Galen visits a Jibu Franchisee, Photographer Jaime Gusching

Rising above Kampala’s traffic-jammed streets, bustling sidewalks, and vibrant markets, is a sign printed with the word, “Jibu.” A word that means “solution” in Swahili.

But to the locals in Uganda, Jibu means the place to buy the highest quality and least expensive water around.

Behind this solution is Galen Welsch, a tall, native Coloradan with an infectious smile and the kind of welcoming enthusiasm and spirit one only expects from a camp counselor.

Galen’s story starts in Morocco, where he spent two years teaching English in rural villages with the Peace Corps. After finishing his commitment, he knew he could do more than provide the poor with better literacy; He could provide them with better lives.

And one of the most essential elements of human life is water.

There is an enormous need in the world for clean water -- 3.4 million die yearly, primarily children, making contaminated water the leading cause of disease and death in the world. Some estimate there is 450 million East Africans do not have reliable access to safe drinking water. It’s especially bad in cities.

The global water crisis has proven practically insoluble to donors and the international development community. Donor-funded clean water projects fail 50% of the time after 2-3 years, primarily because of a lack of community buy-in and local ownership on the beneficiary level. Well-intentioned projects, like treadle pumps, don’t integrate well in a local context, where, for example, women fear exercise on a bike will render them barren.

By starting a clean water initiative, Galen was entering a field with a pronounced history of failure.

But he wasn’t acting alone. His father, Randy Welsch, who spent his career with one foot in philanthropy and one in the private sector, provided the support and connections to match Galen’s pragmatic enthusiasm and determination to see the project through.

Given their status as muzungus (outsiders; literally translated as “those who spin around in the same spot”) and difficulty facing any water initiative, Galen and Randy knew it was imperative to include local entrepreneurs from the beginning.

Based on feedback from locals, they iterated and reiterated their business model. Galen and his team surmounted serious setbacks -- corrupt government officials and bureaucratic red tape, bogus import taxes, and entrepreneurs not aligned with the mission. However, leaning on the community’s support, they finally reached a workable solution.

  • Use a local distribution network of franchisees, who purify the water at the source and who put some skin in the game, which naturally brings out a higher order of problem-solving skills and grit.
  • Streamline the supply chain to cut out grocery stories, which act as a middleman
  • Recycle the bottles (like a propane gas exchange)
  • Sell water at a modest price point (50-75% cheaper than the bottled water at the store)

And it’s working. Or as Galen says with a chuckle, “At least, it hasn’t failed yet!”

Starting a business is one thing. Scaling it to reach the masses is another.

With each day’s success came organizational growing pains, Galen decided to apply to the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) Online program, hosted at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship on Santa Clara University’s campus.

Photo Credit: Jibu, Photographer Andy Berndt

Photo Credit: Jibu, Photographer Andy Berndt

This six-month mentorship program connects a Silicon Valley mentor with a social entrepreneur half a world away, who helps them develop, innovate, and test their product. In this case, John O’Keefe, a lifelong resident of Northern California, CEO and founder of Correctional Communications Corporation, a software development company which created proprietary communications and security platforms for use in jails and prisons. John also served as Pacific Bell’s Vice President of Operations, managing over 300 employees with a $20 million dollar budget, and the Vice President of Sales, bringing in annual revenues of $300 million. Needless to say, his advice packs a punch.

Without ever meeting in person, John and Galen held weekly calls, working through and applying the GSBI curriculum to every facet of the Jibu business model. The end result: a more robust, scalable model, and a rock solid working relationship. After graduation, John and Galen still keep in touch with monthly meetings. When the two met in person in Kampala, it was a heartwarming meeting.

Galen poured John his first glass of Jibu water. John instinctively swirled his glass and lifted the rim to his nose, as if it were a vintage Sauvignon Blanc. Then he laughed at himself: “You can take the man out of California, but you can’t take the California out of the man.”

That’s the power of the GSBI: Connecting entrepreneurs, locals or muzungus, with Silicon Valley’s best and letting magic happen.


Organization: Jibu

Sector(s): Health; Water

Established: 2012

Impact Area(s): Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda

Staff Size: 20

GSBI Programs: GSBI Online

GSBI Year: 2014

GSBI Participant: Galen Welsch

GSBI Mentors: John O'Keefe

Key Awards:

2014: Unreasonable Institute Fellowship

2014: ANDE Membership, B-Corp Certification, SOCAP Entrepreneur Fellowship

2015: Sankalp East Africa Showcase : First Runner Up

2015: International Franchise Association (IFA) Next Gen Grand Prize

Value Proposition:

Jibu provides seed-financing and support to equip East African entrepreneurs with the materials needed to launch safe drinking water franchises. Jibu offers an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to make drinking water 75% cheaper than bottled water, at the same price as boiling water, but with the convenience of door-side delivery and the aspirational association with bottled water.


January 2014: Launched first franchises in Rwanda, Uganda, and DR Congo

April 2014: Launched first company-owned franchise in Rwanda

June 2014: Received local governments water quality certification stamps in all countries of operation

January 2015: Closed first round of equity investment

Impact to Date:

- 10 entrepreneurs equipped with skills and finances to own an enterprise

- 5,000 + people provided with access to safe drinking water

- 11 local, co-owned enterprises launched