I recently read this article about how small businesses run by locals in remote villages in Africa are the key to integrating technology and free enterprise into the hands that need it most. In remote communities of Rwanda most villagers only have access to kerosene lamps for lighting. The problem with kerosene lamps is they are very dangerous to your health and the environment. Not only are they highly flammable but they are also known to produce fumes that can cause lung cancer, therefore creating a problematic situation for any remote villager looking for light at night.

Sammer Hajee is the co-founder and CEO of Nuru Energy in London. He came up with the idea to pilot a micro business model that provides foot powered generators to rural areas in Africa who need a form of electricity the most. His idea was based around providing foot equipment to these interested entrepreneurs in hopes of providing a healthy and safe source of lighting to the community and to also educate and provide a sense of entrepreneurship within the community to help expand their remote economies.

Hajee’s Nuru Energy Company arranges micro loans to the want to be small business owner for the lamps and the electric bike pedals. Once the lamps and electric bike pedals are powered by foot pedaling they create electricity which is sent to LED lights that are sold to paying customers in the village. The entrepreneur spends approximately an hour per day pedaling to supply electricity to the LED lights. This business model produces approximately triple the daily amount of income to the business owner then a typical Rwanda earns farming per day. It takes the business owner approximately 6 months of pedaling to pay off the micro loan plus interest to Nuru, but after the principle and interest are paid the rest is all profit.

Nuru is working on expanding the micro loan business model throughout Africa and currently lights approximately 7,000 families across Africa. With the adaptation of this technology Nuru hopes to use pedal generators to make a living charging other things such as cell phone and radios.

Global capitalism is known for having its flaws and favors but I think Hajee is on the right path to decreasing extreme poverty in these rural African areas. Private capital is crucial to achieving strong and sustainable growth to reduce extreme poverty.
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Jen Street

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