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.
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
2015: Seedstars “Tanzania winner”
2014: Fledge award
2014: Unreasonable East Africa
2013: SOCAP selected social entrepreneurs
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