Social Entrepreneur Spotlight: Jones Ntaukira

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Our very own Country Coordinator, Jones Ntaukira, is a social entrepreneur himself. He founded Zuwa Energy, a social enterprise with a mission to provide people with affordable, clean solar energy to meet their everyday energy needs.

We are grateful to have Jones’ expertise as we prepare to launch our first off-grid DELab. We spoke to him to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey.

FTI: How did you decide to start a business in the energy sector?

JN: I had worked on a project where were trying to find a way to increase awareness and adoption of solar in rural Malawi. Through that project, we successfully distributed about 100 solar lamps and established a financial cooperative which gave out energy loans. This enabled its members to purchase solar lamps. One day, I interviewed a mother and she told me that she doesn’t see the importance of the lamp because her husband takes the lamp at night so that still leaves her in the dark when she has to cook and feed the children. That’s when I realized that our project was simply scratching the surface of energy poverty. We needed to do something more to solve it.

FTI: And from that comes Zuwa Energy. Can you tell us more about your social enterprise?

JN: Zuwa Energy is a social enterprise with a mission to provide people with affordable and clean solar energy to meet their everyday energy needs for both household and business. We understand that while solar household systems are available in Malawi, many vary in quality and are sold at an upfront cost or through inflexible payment plans. Through our business to business partnerships, we incorporate a pay as you go technology into our certified solar products. In addition to the positive impact of our products, 30% of our profits are donated to Empower Malawi. It’s a local NGO that supports rural development initiatives in Malawi with a focus on development and reducing school dropout rates through breakfast programs in rural primary schools.

FTI: What are some of the impact you have seen as a result of Zuwa Energy’s products and services?

JN: More than 500 households have been electrified. In 2018, we have started electrifying rural primary schools. To-date. four schools have been fully electrified allowing students to study at night. In one particular school, teachers have now introduced make-up and revision classes in the evenings because now they can afford to do so!

FTI: Why is access to energy so important?

JN: I accidentally burnt down my grandmother’s grass thatched kitchen because we had to use open fire for lighting. This is an accident that would have been avoided if we had a solar torch for example. That moment turned me into a dreamer who fights [the] reality of energy poverty.

I believe access to clean energy is not just important, but also a human right. Because a lack of it is not only expensive (energy poverty is expensive), but it is also very dangerous and harmful.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jones!