Wenjing Yang - Solar 4 Schools
Blog post #1
Describe the idea!
For schools who are struggling with access to affordable and clean energy, we are developing an off-grid solar system for schools in developing countries (Kenya as the first market), with which schools can access off-grid solar power, save cost, improve health and generate sustainable revenue from a phone charging business.
Who are you?
My name is Wenjing Yang. I’m the founder of CHANGEMAKER IN SLUMS – a social venture founded in 2016 focusing on sustainable projects for schools (agriculture, energy, leadership training etc.) in East Africa.
What will you do during these three months? How will you spend the time?
We will conduct a pilot with our first prototype (the solar school system) in Kenya (with 3 schools in three regions across Kenya).
What do you expect to achieve during Leapfrogs?
We are expecting to get a proof of concept through the pilot. Besides, we also want to get the data from the ground for further analysis and validation.
Blog post #2
Tell us what you have done on your project so far during the Leapfrogs time.
Over the past few weeks, we were preparing the implementation of the 6 months pilot in Kenya with our rough solar energy prototype (MVP 1.0). In the first 4 weeks, we were in the negotiations with local manufacturers and suppliers. Afterwards, we spent 3 weeks on the data collection doc. and recruitment of on-site worker and financial administrator. Currently, we are finalizing the rest preparation and the pilot monitoring form with our expertise.
Has everything gone according to the plan? Has anything unexpected occurred? Has something been easier/harder than expected?
Not everything is going along the way with the original plan. One example is about the pilot timeline setting – it’s a process involving various stakeholders in Sweden, Denmark and Kenya, therefore any change on one side can lead to the adjustment of the whole plan. We learned that leaving some flexibility to the plan and talking to people with relevant ground experiences can be very helpful as it gives us more insights of what might happen in implementation, how to be well prepared in advance and how to deal with unplanned things if they occur.
What will you focus on during the remaining time? Will you follow your original plan or has anything changed along the way?
In the following 6 months, we will be working closely with our Kenyan local partners and focusing on the solar energy system pilot implementation (training for ground staffs, product delivery, installation, product showcase in communities), monitoring (maintenance and data collection) and data analysis (product optimization and validation of product-market fit and revenue model). In terms of the changes, we are open to that as long as it’s still in line with the pilot objectives and the original plan. So far, we’ve made some changes of the timeline and site selection.
Blog post #3
How did you experience the three months?
The main focus of the past three months was about the pilot preparation.
What has been most difficult and what has been most enjoyable?
The most difficult part was the negotiation with local suppliers since we have to meet mutual expectations and set a good basis for future collaboration/ long-term relationship. What’s interesting is that the most enjoyable thing was also about that as that’s where we saw the difference (apart from common interests) and get to learn more about each other.
Will you continue working on your project in the future? If so, what is your next step?
Yes, we will be continue focusing on the six months pilot and getting performance data from the local colleagues for further analysis and optimization.
What would you say is the most important lesson learnt while working on your project?
Two takeaways: one is to verify relevant assumptions with real data and customers; another is to be open about new fields/ technologies / knowledge that I’m not familiar with – since it’s such a fun process to learn something new and understand things from a broader horizon.
Do you have any tips to other new entrepreneurs?
Believe in yourselfJ