Sre Ampil, March 2015. This is Tina with her baby-boy David. She was trained by PicoSol as a solar entrepreneur in 2011, and in 2013 Tina and her family came in charge of the newly opened solar battery charging station in Lvea Em.
If there is no grid...
In unelectrified areas in Cambodia, people have to find alternative sources of energy to supply their energy need. Most common in Cambodia are ordinary car batteries to which appliances like lights or phone chargers are connected. Depending on battery size and the families' energy consumption, the batteries have to be charged 2-3 per week at a battery charging station.
Generally these stations use diesel generators to charge the batteries which is not particularly well for the environment... A solar battery charging station does the same, but since it uses the sun instead of diesel it does not produce any dirt, noise, smell or cause other damage to the environment. The charging process is different too and better for the batteries so these will last longer! The price of charging a battery depends on the size, but is around $0.25.
A succesfull business
Tina runs the SBCS and rents out Moonlights too, and her family members are engaged in all kinds of businesses including farming and fishing. However, the largest contribution to the family income is from Tina's SBCS. In 2013 and the first half of 2014 she raised almost $1900 with the station which provided a stable and decent income for Tina and her family.
But then unexpectedly the grid arrived. Not all villagers can afford grid electricity, and even families that do still use batteries for purposes like fishing. But still, it is clear that the need for battery charging will become less and less and battery charging stations have to rethink their business models. Owners of diesel stations have a tough situation since they have to buy diesel to keep the generator running, no matter if there are 5 or 20 batteries to be charged. Here Tina has an advantage, but she needs help to rethink her business-strategy.
PicoSol Cambodia establised a cooperation with SHE investments, a social enterprise that works with women entrepreneurs to help them grow their business and Tina is one of the entrepreneurs in the programme! We are very happy and grateful to be able to work with SHE investments, since they have the expertise and the means to offer Tina and other women entrepreneurs the capacity building and the network that they need to become even more succesfull.
Please click on the link below to watch a movie-clip about this business incubator project!